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The Power of Knitting and Self-Compassion

Recently a friend of mine ran a course on continental knitting, it produces the same results as the technique I’ve been using for 20 years but is more economical in its movements so can be faster and easier on the joints. While part of me was quite resistant (I already know how to knit, why can’t I just do it my way) I was intrigued to see if it could help me to speed up. Plus, it was being run by a friend who I don’t see enough of, in one of my favourite places, at the very least I could have a chat and some cake.

As the workshop progressed, I really noticed how the different parts of me were responding to the varying challenges of learning a new way of doing something very familiar. There was a determined bit, that wanted to prove I could do it, and took it all very seriously. A playful part that wanted to be silly and eat cake and wasn’t bothered about the knitting. A part that was sulky and resistant and didn’t like not knowing how to do it. It was interesting to notice how each of these parts responded to the successes and the difficulties of the session (I’m still casting on in the way I learnt years ago). What was most interesting to me was the difference it made to have my compassionate self as the part that was organising the others.

Many of you will know how important self-compassion is to me and how often it comes up in my work. It is something that I have struggled with in the past (and sometimes still do), but it continues to be one of my most important practices. It was my compassionate part that soothed the determined part when we found things difficult, who let the resistant pat know it was safe to try something new, who calmed the playful part (or distracted it with cake) when it got bored. The compassionate part made space for all the other bits of me, it didn’t get cross with them, or wish them away, it acknowledged what each part needed and found a way to weave them together so I could focus on the learning I wanted to do.

Self-compassion is one of the keys to changing the way we do things, whether it’s how we knit or how we think about things. It is the kindness and compassion that allows us to acknowledge our needs and attend to them so we can make space for something new. It was a similar process to learning to give myself permission to attend to my sensory needs or to stim openly or any of the other stages of unmasking I’ve been through. Only kindness and compassion could help me to know that who I am is ok even though it hasn’t always felt like that. Kindness and compassion disrupt the negative spirals our brains can get caught up in and long enough for us to change direction.

This is why compassion and kindness are at the heart of my way of working with clients and supervisees because I know how powerful it can be. It’s also why it is central to the new training I am developing for practitioners who work with neurodivergent folk, because I want to share what I’ve learnt, from my own experiences as well as my work. If you want to know more about the training, I’ll be sharing more details of the content at the upcoming Onlinevents conference on Neurodivergent Wellbeing on 20th October or feel free to get in touch with any questions.

Text reads 'How does self-compassion help you change' Background picture is of knitting in varigated yarn that is pink and purple

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