Self-Compassion Amid Financial Stress

Last week I launched a contest to mark the publication of my new book. Via a hidden “Easter egg” on my website, I asked participants to share how they are compassionate with themselves during times of great financial stress.

The responses poured in and were truly inspiring. Reading through them, I was touched by the collective wisdom we share as a loose-knit, global spiritual community. I found myself to be the real winner of the contest in getting to bask in so much heartfelt, practical sharing.

And so I decided to pay it forward by including excerpts of the entries here. I couldn’t include them all, and edited the ones selected. Since I didn’t have the chance to ask for an okay from the contest participants, I’m listing them anonymously.

To all of you who took part, thank you! To all of you who read something here that stirs your own writing inspiration, please add to the list by contributing a comment.

Here’s to self-compassion, especially when it’s the most difficult to come by.


I get plenty of rest.

I find the beauty in small things.

I pray more.

I appreciate more.

I give something. A few dollars to a homeless person, a few minutes of my time, or simply holding a door for several people before I enter myself. When I think I am in need, I give.

I slow down, get present in my body, notice what’s there that wants my attention, and listen, listen, listen.

I get outdoors with my dog – the exercise is a relief from all that worry, and connecting with strangers feels right, too. I regain a sense of being connected to humanity, and most humans have things to worry about. The small connections help me feel that I’m not so alone, and my troubles are not unique.

I meditate for 20 minutes each morning before the day starts. I am able to clear my mind of past failures and future worries, and focus on just
“now”. The quietness and groundedness of this “now” allows me to keep my perspective throughout the day.

I hike with my partner of 36 years in the woods. We take one two hour block of time for complete silence. We focus on the moment. The sounds or in the winter after fresh fallen snow the stillness, bring me back into connection with the universe. It serves to remind me that the most precious gifts have nothing to do with the current economy.

I go through a whole list of the blessings that I have rather than the things that I don’t have….and it always makes me feel better.

Now it is my time. I am taking care of me. Me – finally. What a concept!

I read books that I have bought and never yet had the chance to read.

I find other ways to reduce my spending so I don’t have to give up Pilates. It helps clear my mind, and is great for my body as well.

I pay attention to the scary stories I tell myself about the future and inquire directly into their source.

I focus on what I have, see, feel, taste, smell, touch, and know.

I talk to friends – it’s free!

I pour a tall glass of water to start the day. As I drink it, I imagine it filling me up with fresh ideas and hope and washing away the “old.”

I am kind to myself by eating well, lightly and with choice in every bite.

I try to be kind in my speech to myself and others. When I’m not so kind, I make a point of going back to clean it up.

I am blessed to be learning in these times that right here, even now, I get to decide whether to contract or expand. I am kind to myself by accepting the astounding contraction that I have met.

I remind myself that I am enough, that I already have everything I need, (and more) and that money is not what I am made of (literally). Instead I am a part of that pool of sacred energy where everything and anything is possible and I am a direct descendant of the divine intelligence that radiates throughout infinity. That intelligence is me.

I stop, breath, and drop-in to core-self/source/joy. However, this is often difficult to do when I am under ‘great stress’ which is a product of old habitual fear. Then, I either take time to have a conversation with my fear/ego/child to listen and reassure, and/or find a friend with whom to have tea and laughter, and/or go for a walk. It sometimes takes a while to recognize that I need to take these steps, but once I have then I can address the problem with much greater clarity, ease and equanimity – not to mention greater receptivity to possibilities and solutions.

One healthy way that I’m kind to myself in this time of financial stress, is to remember that finance is only one form, or representation, of energy. The energy remains in other forms. I connect with friends and concentrate on heart-felt projects. While maintaining some touch with financial “realities,” I do not let worry about what might happen hinder my ability to enjoy now.

I take a long bike ride.

My dogs – They always forgive me, don’t hold grudges and are happy to see me when I come home.

I notice my anxiety and stay with it in awareness until it lightens. Then I follow threads of ideas that come up in that calmer context. However, I must say that no concrete strategy for financial change has jelled, so I am just letting the process repeat. I suspect that in time some pathway will emerge.

I acquired a down jacket that is light enough to be worn indoors yet warm enough to let me keep the thermostat off. It has more than paid for itself in gas heat saved over the past six weeks. And I have a jacket that will serve for years to come. This may sound too superficial for your drawing, but I am grateful to myself every time I put it on. I think that qualifies as self- kindness in a very concrete form.

We coined the phrase, “Living the High Life Parsimoniously!” We take a walk together, buy the Wednesday NY Times ($1), go to the library and check out a movie, buy a used book.

I get pots at thrift stores and yard sales and buy ‘clearance’ plants and bring them back to life. I find when I’m tending to my plants I am Present and I feel connected to the Universe. Besides being beautiful, the plants provide oxygen and filter the air in my home.

I recently created a little financial stress for myself by going on a little spending spree. First, I fell into the old pattern of berating myself for my poor judgment…had a good little tirade against myself.

Then I recognized what I was doing, and that it wasn’t helpful to me. My way of being kind to myself was to separate into the “witness” persona, then have a compassionate talk with all of the other selves that were showing up–the judge, the mean parent, the helpless child, to name a few.

Then I was able to better understand why I spent money I
didn’t have, but forgive myself for the mistake, and
move on.

About Raphael Cushnir

Raphael Cushnir is a popular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine. He has also been a teacher, activist, screenwriter, and film director. His own heart was rekindled after a period of profound grief. His first book, Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship, was twice nominated as Best Personal Growth title of the year and introduced the "Living the Questions" process. His second book, Setting Your Heart on Fire: Seven Invitations to Liberate Your Life, is used as a teaching tool in churches and spiritual centers around the country. His third book, How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment, was named one of the "Best Spiritual Books of 2005" by Spirituality and Health magazine. Raphael shares his work in talks and workshops worldwide. For more info:;;;
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4 Responses to Self-Compassion Amid Financial Stress

  1. SADHU says:

    Thanks for sharing all of these great insights and lovely ways that folks deal with life. It is so nice to “connect” with kindreds. peace, Elizabeth Sadhu

  2. LeAnn says:

    Hello Raphael,

    Great to see you blogging. Enjoyed your books and news emails.
    These “Being” by “Doing” are excellent reminders and many I do myself.
    I do feel a sense of peace and joy within through this shift in our enviroment now.

    Nice to see a fellow Heart person sharing “how to be present with joy and peace within” now.


  3. fletch92131 says:

    I try to give myself some slack when dealing with others not press myself too hard.

  4. Better late than never, I say. I just discovered your book, Unconditional Bliss, in my own house this weekend. It found me, actually. I needed it, and want to thank you for it.
    I have a blog, and I wrote about finding your book and how it helped me. Now I need to get the other books!
    What I do to be kind to myself is get a massage. It’s a true indulgence for me.
    Thanks again!

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