The journey of awakening is one of continually coming up against big challenges and then learning how to soften and open…you soften and feel compassion for your predicament and for the whole human condition. -Pema Chodron
Round pegs in square holes leaves us dyslexics with scratches and bruises around the edges. Whether we’re intentionally bullied in school or misunderstood by our teachers, parents, friends or siblings, we can experience rough moments that cut to our core. These injuries need our attention.
From my experience, mindful self-compassion practice can help.
For instance this afternoon I was on the phone in the kitchen when my husband came home. He proceeded to unwrap a newly purchased coffee mug. The white noise from the packaging paper was deafening! Then he opened the dishwasher that creaks like a screaming hyena and he topped it off by grabbing a handful of ice for his lemonade. I was about to lose my SH_T! Meanwhile my 17-month-old daughter was napping in a nearby room… so changing locations for my conversation wasn’t an option. I was stuck in the midst of this sound storm.
Normally, I would’ve screamed in a fit of rage.
Instead, in a flash of clarity, I said to my friend on the phone, “I’m having a dyslexic moment.” Then I described to her what was happening, “the sound is killing me. My husband couldn’t be making more noise.” And in that moment, my frustration, my irritation, my anxiety that I couldn’t hear the conversation on the phone, and my fear that I was incompetent all went away. I had used my mindfulness to recognize what was happening in the moment… and I used self-compassion—an attitude of care and kindness towards myself—to help settle the cacophony of noise surrounding me.
Living with a hidden disability like dyslexia means that we are constantly swirling in the middle of unknown triggers that impact our minds and nervous systems. Learning ways to calm ourselves doesn’t just help us get through these rough moments, but it also teaches us resilience and ultimately a more empowered way to live our lives.
So next time you’re triggered, try this:
Cross your arms and give yourself a long caring squeeze. (No one knows it’s a hug!)
So simple—yet, normally we bash ourselves while we’re already down.
Sarah Entine, MSW, is a documentary filmmaker, and an adult with dyslexia and a few other processing challenges (auditory processing/discrimination, processing speed, working memory) who lives in Berkeley, California.