It’s easy to think that self-compassion is something you can get by without. You can be compassionate towards others, and that’s all that really matters right?
But is this true? You only have so much compassion to give. If you’re not re-filling that reservoir of compassion, you’re going to dry up. And then what?
Your relationship with yourself is the platform from which you relate to others. If there are certain things you can’t show compassion to yourself for, then you will struggle to show compassion towards others for those very same things. In fact, those things in someone else can trigger uncomfortable, shameful feelings in you and in that moment, it’s so easy to say something that hurts a loved one. Your friend. Your partner. Your child.
How compassionate you are towards yourself affects your family in another way too. Your child will pick up on how you are feeling and they’ll respond to that. Want to know the best way to teach your child to be compassionate towards themselves, rather than to self-criticise? Model it (learn more from world leading expert on compassion, Kristen Neff).
Doesn’t being self-compassionate mean you’re too easy on yourself?
Perhaps self-compassion is confused with self-pity. It’s not about getting wrapped up in a problem and allowing yourself to wallow. It’s also not self-indulgence. The idea of comforting ourselves with a tub of ice cream and winding down with alcohol; letting ourselves off and walking away from whatever has upset us. Maybe you believe that being self-critical is realistic, even essential in preparing you for next time and motivating you to do better. Well let’s explore that…
When you don’t achieve what you set out to do, or you make a mistake, you have two options:
- You can respond with harsh self-criticism
- You can respond with self-compassion
Harsh criticism is of course motivating in the first instance. It’s natural to try harder initially because you don’t want to experience that awful feeling of being criticised again. But what happens when you do feel this again (and again and again, because that’s exactly what the human experience is: none of us are perfect so we all make mistakes and fail often)?
To continually criticise, judge and condemn yourself leads to anxiety, depression, insecurity, shame, worthlessness and even hopelessness. You are your own prosecutor. Is this a motivating state to operate from? No! You lose faith in yourself. You become afraid of failing and you stop trying in case you make another mistake. You keep yourself small.
Without self-compassion, it’s difficult to believe in yourself. Are you really going to put your heart and soul into something that ultimately you don’t believe you can achieve?
What if you choose self-compassion?
When you practise compassion, whatever happens, you know that you are a good person doing the best you can; sometimes you make mistakes in life and things don’t always go to plan, and that makes you just like every other human being in this world.
When you are able to relate to yourself positively and kindly, embracing yourself flaws and all, you are able to look past what didn’t go well to value and appreciate your intentions, efforts and all the positive aspects of yourself.
Practising self-compassion even releases feel good hormones, putting you in the optimal mindset to do your best. You’re motivated to grow and develop, encouraging yourself to learn from whatever has happened. Inspired to keep taking action with all of your new knowledge and awareness.
With self-compassion, you are free to joyfully live your life with full, authentic self-expression, letting go of perfectionism and worries about what other people think. Building trust, connecting, encouraging and creating change, for you and for others. Most importantly, with self-compassion, you believe you can.