Self Compassion: The Key to Living a Non-Toxic Life

Contributor: Primally Pure
Photographer: Primally Pure

My name is Paige, and I am a recovering perfectionist. Why is this information relevant to a post about non-toxic living? That’s a question I would have asked a few years ago before my healing journey began.

I’ll explain.

When I first discovered the link between increasing public health issues and the toxic ingredients in many of our beauty products, I was sitting in a functional physician’s office feeling hopeless. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at age 12, and after almost two decades of strong medications, uncomfortable tests, fluctuating weight, and emotional turmoil I finally stumbled upon the increasingly popular holistic approach to healing chronic illness.

I felt like I had struck gold, and I devoured every bit of information I could get my hands on. I downloaded apps to check product ingredients before I purchased them, I spent a small fortune on makeup labeled as safe, and I spouted my research findings to every willing (and in some cases less than willing) audience. I was a woman on a mission, and I was all-in.

Then slowly and somewhat unconsciously, I reverted back to my old ways. I’d grab my former favorite eyeshadow palette or take advantage of a BOGO facewash offer courtesy of my drugstore membership points. I traded in my all-natural deodorant for the clinical strength name brand that left me feeling completely dry after a workout courtesy of a formula that included aluminum. I fell off the wagon and was face down in the mud.

What happened?

I tried to be perfect in the process of transitioning to a non-toxic routine because I felt an unrelenting need to be perfect at everything. When I bought my trusty old mascara and used it for the first time in months, I felt like a failure. When a perfectionist makes one small misjudgment we often allow it to completely derail our progress towards a goal. If I made one mistake, I threw in the towel. I considered my slip up to be a validating moment for my constant self-criticism. I can never stick to something. I’m so lazy. I never do anything right. I am not good enough. Those are only a few of the biting remarks that were on a loop in my head as I abandoned my self-care routine.

What had to change?

I came to the realization that all of the organic food, natural cleaners, and toxin-free beauty products in the world wouldn’t heal the mental and emotional toxicity within. That part of my healing journey needed to occur for me to dedicate myself to a healthier and happier life. Otherwise, all of the external changes would be fleeting.

I needed to practice self-compassion, a concept that was completely foreign to me at the time. It took years, and it is still something I consciously work on everyday. The positive changes in my life since this realization have been substantial. So substantial that I am here to share what steps helped me to build a healthy practice of self-compassion and ultimately commit to a non-toxic life (both literally and figuratively).

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Go Inward

I took time to get to know myself. This may sound silly but I spent the majority of my life checking accomplishment boxes and seeking external validation. I finally took the time to consider what sparked joy in myself regardless of the perceptions of others.

I learned to enjoy my own company. I once shuddered at the thought of going to a movie or alone or taking myself on a brunch date with a good book. Now I crave that time.

I connected with my intuition, and I am learning to trust it. This is something I continue to work on, but I trust my gut much more today than I did a few years ago. Setting my racing thoughts aside and pausing to see how something makes me feel has been life-changing.

I began a meditation practice. I started with guided meditations via an app, and I slowly transitioned to a mantra-based meditation that I practice daily. This has helped me to disconnect from the stress related to my job, my finances, my family, and other triggers. I allow myself to just be, even if only for a few minutes.

Let Go

I am slowly but steadily releasing the need for external validation, and in doing so, I am able to accept that the only person I have control over is me. I no longer spend hours anxiously analyzing why I wasn’t invited to a dinner party, why I wasn’t promoted before a colleague, or why I don’t make as much money as one of my peers. I stay in my own lane, and the only comparison I give into is between who I was yesterday and how I can a little bit kinder, wiser, and happier today.

I walked away from toxic relationships, and I set healthy boundaries in those that remain. My perfectionist tendencies resulted in a lifetime of people-pleasing habits. I offered up myself as a doormat in exchange for even the slightest hint of approval and acceptance from others. This was a difficult habit to break, but letting go of the relationships that drain you of your energy is like letting yourself out of a self-imposed cage. It took me over 30 years to realize I had the key all along.

I learned to give myself a break when I inevitably stumble along the way. I don’t let a minor setback take me back to step one. I dust myself off and keep moving forward.

Commit to Your Journey

I dedicate time each day for the activities that I hold sacred. For me this includes a warm cup of water with lemon, a walk outside (weather permitting), meditation, and writing.

I make more time for the activities that light me up. I write on my blog, I volunteer for a dog rescue, and I dance around my apartment while blaring 80s music… to name a few.

Most importantly I treat my body and my mind with the care and consideration they deserve. Now that I have done the inner work I am able to commit with ease to using toxin-free products, maintaining a clutter-free home, and turning to positive means of stress relief instead of self-destructive habits.

I hope that anyone reading this who has struggled with living toxin-free knows that they are not alone. Our struggles with making changes and committing to them often stem from deep-rooted issues. If we can learn to embrace our imperfections, practice a little patience, and extend the compassion we so often have for others to ourselves, we will be resilient in our pursuit of health and happiness.