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Learning the Art of Self-Compassion

Aug 5, 2022 | Blog, Lifestyle

Being a nice, caring, compassionate person is something to strive for. Everyone is worthy of love and acceptance, not because of what they do or don’t do, but just because. We are all inherently worthy.

I try to always treat others with kindness, love, and respect. I’m not perfect, but I try. I bet you do too.

But how well are you doing at extending that same love, acceptance, and compassion towards yourself? For many of us, this seems harder. We are often looking at what we did or said incorrectly. We are so good at finding flaws in ourselves and beating ourselves up for not being better.

I often believe that the default automatic way of living is to be nicer to acquaintances than we are to ourselves or the people to whom we are the closest.

 

Why is this?

 

Well, truth be told, it’s often because we are concerned about what others think of us. We know our family will love us no matter what. But we so desperately want others to think we are good. When other people think highly of us, we allow ourselves to think good things about ourselves too.

But guess what? No matter how hard you try, you cannot control what other people think of you. And if you do something that doesn’t feel in line with your true authentic self and they do think highly of you, are they really liking you OR are they just liking the person you are pretending to be?

Other people will think what they will think and it has less to do with you than you realize. Someone could really love you because you remind them of their mother-in-law and they adore their mother-in-law. Someone else could find you really annoying because you remind them of their great aunt and they have a strong dislike for her. In both instances, the love and the annoyance had nothing to do with you. It has to do with them.

Whether someone likes you or not doesn’t take away from your inherent amazingness! My daughter, Ainsley, doesn’t like cake. I think cake is amazing! In fact, I wish I didn’t like cake nearly as much as I do. Just because Ainsley doesn’t like cake, does that mean there is something inherently wrong with cake? No, absolutely not. It’s just not her preference.

You can be unbelievably awesome and still not be someone’s preference and that is perfectly fine.

Here’s the fun part. You get to think whatever you want about yourself regardless of what others think. You don’t need to prove it to anyone.

The hard part is that we all have an inner critic. This inner critic can be merciless, nit-picky, and relentless. My inner critic is invisible but always on the job. The inner critic tells us that we aren’t good enough and that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. Often, we’ll do almost anything to silence this mean part of our brain.

 

 

Common strategies that we use to silence this inner critic are:

 

  1. Working on self-improvement. If we can improve ourselves, then we’ll be worthy of love.
  2. We play it safe, not letting the world see our true authentic selves for fear of rejection.
  3. We withdraw from the present moment and instead focus on things like what hasn’t worked in the past and all we have left to do. We worry about what trouble may lie ahead and worry about how others view us. We also may focus on how others are not meeting our needs or on how others are letting us down.
  4. We keep busy! It’s easier to stay busy with social media, emails, TV, eating, or drinking than to feel painful thoughts! We bury our feelings of unworthiness in busyness. The problem is the painful thoughts are always waiting for us when we eventually slow down.
  5. We make ourselves feel better by focusing on other people’s faults. Yes, we are bad–but not as bad as they are! This helps temporarily but the relief is fleeting.

 

If you relate to any of this, I want you to know that you are not alone. Suffering and discontent are universal. There is nothing inherently wrong with you and you are and always have been 100% worthy. Not because of anything you’ve done or not done but just because.

I challenge you at this moment to accept yourself just as you are. This freedom is possible now. This is what author and meditation expert Tara Brach calls “Radical Acceptance.” When we accept life as it is and accept ourselves how we are, we step into immediate freedom. When we put down our ideas of what life should be like, we are free to say yes to life as it is wholeheartedly.

The secret to doing this is by extending the same love, grace, and compassion we so freely offer to others to ourselves.

Life is 50/50. It isn’t all rainbows and daisies. But what if nothing is wrong and what if things are exactly the way they should be? It seems like if you say yes to accepting things as they are, you’ll turn into a lazy slug who doesn’t care about anything. I find the opposite to be true. When you are nice to yourself instead of mean, you free up the energy of judgment and can use it for being your true authentic wonderful self.

I challenge you to be nice to yourself. It takes work! But you can do it! Start by looking in the mirror each morning and paying yourself a compliment. You deserve the same compassion you offer to others! We love others better when we learn to love ourselves.

You’ve got this!

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