What happens when you make a mistake? Are you hard on yourself? Blame yourself? Call yourself names?
What happened to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? Why do we forget the love thyself part? Most of us are not comfortable with that. We feel selfish if we love ourselves. We give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt, but not ourselves.
Compassion and Self-Compassion
What is compassion? Sympathetic awareness of another’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
When your friends and loved ones are hurting or dealing with difficult situations or difficult emotions, compassion means offering them love and support and wishing them easier times. [Love thy neighbor]
What is self-compassion? Responding to yourself with the same kindness, care, and support that you would treat another person that you care about. [Love thyself]
It’s so much easier to be objective with someone else. Most of us are overly self-critical. Why?
Internal name calling, negative self-image, and negative self-talk often come from things you experienced in the home you grew up in as a child.
The problem NOW is that thought patterns and beliefs which developed when you were a child feel like they are the truth after all these years of believing them. Just because they feel true does NOT mean they ARE in fact, true and accurate. Time to question them!!
Is Lack of Self-Compassion the Source of Your Anxiety?
Clients often come to my office unsure of why they are having so much anxiety. Many times, the source of anxiety is actually their own negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves:
* Worry about not being good enough
* Questioning whether they are doing enough
* Bothered by what they think other people think
Do any of these sound like you:[pullquote]We spend way too much time thinking about all the ways we’re not good enough and not enough time acknowledging all the ways that we are perfect – just the way we are![/pullquote]
* The mom who runs herself ragged, worried about whether she is doing enough. Should she be doing more? Do other people think she should be doing more?
* The student whose self-esteem comes from grades and performance and how she ranks, worried about being a failure if she doesn’t get A’s on everything.
* The retiree who can’t allow herself to slow down, relax and enjoy retirement. She thinks she should be doing more, she should have a more important purpose in life, and should be busy all the time to prove it.
* The athlete whose self-value comes from whether or not she wins or loses. Winning and being THE best are only ways to show or validate that she is good enough.
Of course it causes a lot of anxiety to question yourself all the time, to wonder if you are doing enough, and therefore worry…are you a good enough person?
Why We Resist Self-Compassion
According to Kristin Neff, PhD, a leading researcher in the field, it’s the firm belief that being kind to yourself will undermine your motivation.
If I don’t push myself to succeed, I won’t reach my goals.
I’ll get lazy. I’ll be a failure.
Or so we tell ourselves. And most of us fear failure more than anything.
Research actually shows that people who are more self-compassionate tend to achieve more, be more courageous in the face of risk, and are more resilient because they do not give up. They keep trying because they can tolerate the occasional times of failure or mistakes, without deciding that these things mean they are a bad person.
“When we judge ourselves harshly…” notes Kristin, “we start to lose our self-confidence and become more afraid of failing.” It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s also common to hold a firm belief that self-compassion (a form of self-love) is selfish. It is not selfish. It is not narcissistic.
Research suggests the opposite. This is not a self-centered practice. Self-compassionate people are better able to take the perspective of others, and are perceived by others as connected and responsive and caring.
Give It A Try
All good comes from self-compassion. There is no downside. Include yourself in the circle of compassion that you probably extend to your loved ones automatically and naturally. You deserve it.