Self-compassion can be hard to integrate into our self-care practice because it can be hard to truly believe we deserve it and to exhibit it with conviction. That being said, self-compassion isn’t blind self-love that is meant to make allowances or excuses, self-compassion should be motivating and help us grow and move forward.
Human beings are so critical and judgmental, especially of ourselves. We hold ourselves to impossible standards and when we fall short we fall into blame, shame and guilt. Self-compassion helps us treat ourselves with the grace we deserve – the grace we often reserve for everyone else. It is much more complex than simply blindly loving ourselves and believing we can do no wrong. Being aware of when we do in fact do wrong has its place in self-compassion.
Here are a few tips for finding more compassion for yourself.
Embracing the human experience: We often have a tendency to suffer alone, to assume that no one feels the way we do and no one understands. We also tend to compare our lives to those of others and we decide everyone else is living so much better lives than we are. What we forget is that what we see is what people choose to portray – the curated, glossy picture they are proud of. We often aren’t spectators to the falls, the stumbles and the struggles. The thing is, everyone suffers, everyone struggles, everyone faces obstacles. When we stop believing in the singularity of our experience, we find connection. We are no longer alone. We need to find an understanding that we are, as humans, fallible and flawed and we are all in this together. That doesn’t take away the uniqueness of the individual, however remembering we all stumble and pick ourselves back up helps us see the big picture and forgive ourselves for those stumbles.
Finding mindfulness: Mindfulness can be very helpful in remaining compassionate to ourselves because it removes judgment from observation. What I mean by that, is that mindfulness is about being in the present moment and observing how we feel or what we are experiencing without labeling it. Any emotions we feel are not bad or good, positive or negative, they just are. Practicing mindfulness can help use let go of the judgment we so often put on our experiences, which then makes them amplified and often worse than they are. It’s about awareness – being intensely aware of what we’re sensing and feeling in that moment. Anything can be done mindfully, drinking coffee, cooking, driving, going for a walk. The more we practice it the more it becomes accessible and natural to us. We find difficulty being self-compassionate when we judge our emotions, thereby invalidating them. We find blame and guilt for feeling angry, or sad, etc. Emotions have a function and all emotions are real to us, and we are allowed to feel them.
Finding self-forgiveness: Forgiving can be difficult. Especially when the trespass committed against us was deeply painful and/or the person we are trying to forgive is very close to us and we therefore had greater expectations of them. Forgiving ourselves can be exponentially more difficult because we hold ourselves to the highest expectations. We need to understand that ‘our failures are our training grounds’, as the band Rilo Kiley aptly put it. When we stumble, we learn our strength and we learn how to pick ourselves back up. That doesn’t mean failures and struggles aren’t difficult, painful or disappointing. Nor does it mean we need to make allowances for ourselves and repeat the same mistakes or refuse to learn from the experience. Self-forgiveness is not a free pass. But it offers us grace and reminds us that we are all flawed and we are all perfect and we do our best.
Why is it so much more difficult to offer compassion to ourselves? We can find kindness for others, forgiveness for others, non-judgment for others. But when it comes to ourselves, we are harsh and unyielding. Hopefully these tips will help you ease up on yourself and realize that self-compassion is actually more conducive to growth and progress.