“When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.”
Dr. Kristin Neff
Our inner critic wants to lead us to believe that we are the only ones who are flawed, or tripping up and falling down once again. We think that somehow we just can’t seem to get it right and assume that the person next to us or down street has everything figured out. How many times have you had negative self-talk such as: “There I go again, messing up ____ (fill in the blank).”
Because we often judge ourselves harshly, we neglect to be a good and nurturing friend to ourselves. Self-compassion gives us the opportunity to see ourselves more clearly, noticing what is beneath our judgmental thoughts.
Instead of that knee jerk reaction of self-judgement, try opening your heart to the deeper you and ask “what about me is unique and precious, and waiting to be seen and acknowledged?”
Here is a quote that I love:
“By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.”
When we stop comparing ourselves to others and judging our lives against the backdrop of someone else’s experience, we allow ourselves to honor our gifts, and bring them forward. Having self-compassion also involves turning toward yourself, like you would a good friend or spouse, and asking “what do you need?” Listen to what you hear and feel, and take care of those needs.
Another time when cultivating self-compassion is crucial is in times of failure or loss, when we are unsure of and lack the motivation for taking the next step. Self-compassion doesn’t judge, but rather, through kindness, recognizes the growth in every opportunity, and celebrates that. In addition, when we can give compassion to ourselves first, it becomes easier to feel compassion for others.
Setting the stage to thrive in life is mostly about preparing ourselves to handle anything that comes our way. This is different than expecting to always be able to control our experience and make life perfect. We are all on a journey of learning, making mistakes and growing from them.
It takes practice ahead of time to be prepared to have self-compassion, especially in the face of unexpected adversity. It may even feel a little awkward at first if it’s not something you’ve been offering yourself. Compassion has qualities of calmness, strength, warmth, kindness, gratitude, open mindedness, non-judgment, acceptance and love. With these qualities come a sense of wisdom and understanding. The opposite is feeling emotionally drained after beating yourself up. Positive psychology research has shown that love and kindness is a far more powerful motivator than harshness.
When you begin or continue to work on your practice of self-compassion, please let me know how it’s going, I’d love to hear from you!