Unfortunately self-compassion can sometimed be viewed as a sign of weakness (according to society), or thought of as “feeling sorry for ourselves” or holding us back from “getting on with it”.
Self-compassion can be difficult to because it forces us to tune into ourselves and feel the feelings that we so easily want to quash, push down and forget about. Without self-compassion we continue on without processing or registering these feelings and thus it remains within us festering under the surface.
I believe us human beings are so hard on ourselves. We have such high expectations of ourselves and we are somehow taught emotions need to be hidden.
If we show emotions it is a weakness and it makes us vulnerable, less resilient. But I feel we may take it one step too far and find ourselves hiding our feelings from ourselves. It feels yucky to feel the sadness, heaviness, worry and stress. So we avoid it at all costs. We pretend we are okay (to ourselves). We “get on with it” because there is no time to sit with ourselves and process these feelings.
But I have learnt that self-compassion isn’t weak or negative at all. I feel it helps us nurture our soul, it allows us to feel love for ourselves, it is holding space for ourselves to process our feelings.
Giving ourselves the space to feel sad, angry or to reflect on how humiliated or embarrassed we were, or how much we blame ourselves for something (or whatever the emotion) invites us to really look at ourselves and to acknowledge how we feel or felt without judgement or meanness. I also think it is key to accepting where you are currently at in your wellness or self-development journey.
Berating yourself is being not being self-compassionate.
I feel that self-compassion is a daily practise and it starts by becoming aware of what you are saying to yourself in your head. Things like “why did you do that, you made a fool of yourself” is not being self-compassionate. “You can’t even say what you mean, so how do you expect to…” or “You are so dumb, ugly, etc” is not being self-compassionate.
It can also show up in how we talk about ourselves to others. When we put ourselves down in front of others it really shows how little we value ourselves (low self-worth) as well as hurting our own feelings (although sometimes we may find ourselves belittling ourselves in front of others to make them feel better, i.e. dimming your light, and that’s a whole other conversation).
Basically, when we are mean to ourselves (whether saying in our heads or to others), we are bullying and punishing ourselves on some level. No wonder the real person deep down is afraid to come out of her shell when even their own self is being cruel!
Self-compassion is free of self-judgement or blame.
Think of yourself as a small child – would you judge her and call her names? Hopefully not. You would want to provide a safe, loving caring space for her to share her worries and feelings. You wouldn’t want her to hide behind a brave face and pretend everything is okay.
I invite you to start creating an awareness around how you speak to yourself, both in your head or out loud to other people. What kind of things do you say to yourself? What do you think this stems from? How can you change your thought patterns to forgive yourself and to show yourself understanding and love.
Self-compassion is unconditional.
Of course there are varying degrees of how mean we are to ourselves and how much self-compassion we may be already showing ourselves. Some of us may show self-compassion under certain conditions, but I believe self-compassion needs to be unconditional, not given only under certain circumstances.
Showing yourself unconditional love and compassion unconditionally helps you feel supported from the inside out. It creates a sense of harmony between your body, heart, soul and mind. It helps create a positive, loving, nurturing vibe within you.
On the flip side, when we only show self-love and self-compassion based on circumstances and under certain conditions, it creates a sense of discord, separation, and a battle within.
Self-compassion leads to forgiveness.
Even if you may have done something regretful, you can still have compassion for yourself. Take it as an opportunity to deep dive into how you feel about it or why you are regretful, without berating yourself.
When you have “fallen off the wagon” or haven’t done those things you feel you “should” be doing, when you are blaming yourself, or placing high expectations on yourself, or showing perfectionist tendencies, or experiencing setbacks, self-compassion creates a space to forgive yourself.
Have a think about how you react when you experience the setbacks, let downs, “failures” and “embarrassing” moments. Do you find you call yourself names, put yourself down?
How can you create a safe space for you to feel the disappointment, hurt or regret? Perhaps journal about it, see if you can identify where your reactions may come from (perhaps you have learnt this through role models in your life, or maybe it was caused by a hurtful experience).
Self-compassion allows you take the leap and follow your heart’s desires. When you follow your dreams you will be required to step out of your comfort zone, you will be faced with fear, self-doubt may arise, and you may experience setbacks.
But self-compassion gives you a softer place to land when things don’t work out as you had planned or hoped, and it t gives you the space to dust yourself off and get on back up to try again – without judgement, and without conditions.