A Reflection on Comfort
By Corinne Sigmund, Life Together Fellow
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about comfort, and how we all seem to be needing a little extra these days. I find it sort of embarrassing to admit I want to be comforted— I don’t think any adult really welcomes suddenly feeling like a small child again. But unease with the vulnerability of needing to be cared for doesn’t make that need disappear. And really, seeking out comfort is a beautiful thing. Showing people that we need them, though it can be scary, deepens our relationships.
So, as I sat down to write this reflection, I wondered to myself: what is it that people need to hear? In the past, when talking to friends or strangers in need of comfort, I often found myself looking for the exact “right” thing to say, wanting those magic words that would make everything better. But with time and patience and practice, I came to understand that the “right” thing to say doesn’t exist. In fact, the only “right” thing is being there. Presence— nothing more and nothing less— is the greatest comfort.
We all know how to be present for one another, to show up when our people need us. But how many of us know how give that same degree of intentional presence— that compassion and love— to ourselves? Self-compassion isn’t always our first instinct when we find ourselves in need of comfort. We may berate ourselves, telling ourselves that we shouldn’t want comfort— that we’re weak for needing it, or we should be able to handle our feelings on our own. This self-critical voice is part of us, but doesn’t make the need for a comforting presence go away. And with effort, we can cultivate a self-compassionate voice that becomes part of us too. That self-compassionate voice can give us the gentle care we need, allowing us to be patiently present with ourselves.
So the next time you find yourself feeling like the world is too much, which I suspect is pretty often these days, I invite you to take care of that inner child who wants comfort. I invite you to put your hand on your heart, giving yourself that caring physical presence, and tell yourself: “It’s okay that you’re feeling this way. You’re allowed to want to be comforted. I’m here for you, I love you, and I’ll take good care of you.” I know it sounds a little cheesy, but what do you have to lose by trying? Your own comforting presence may just be exactly what you need.