“People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight – self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards.” ~ Compassion research from CCARE – Dr. Kristen Neff at University of Texas Austin
As I sit here in front of my computer, wanting to write this piece on self-compassion, I am finding it hard to write about a topic so dear to me. And I can’t help but ask myself:
Why is that?
Why is it that I struggle with this?
Is it because I forgot what it means to show myself and others true compassion? Or is it because I have become so focused on pushing and forcing myself into life, that I forgot how powerful gentleness, self-love, self-care, and self-compassion truly are?
The power of self-compassion
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel that the world we live in is upside down. And that the essential things are perceived as being of no value at all. While the things that have no value – the things that have the power to hurt and harm us – are perceived as being extremely valuable and important.
From a young age, we are taught to compare and compete with everybody around us; to criticize, judge and punish ourselves for not being enough: good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, tall enough, thin enough, etc..
Everywhere we go and everywhere we look, we are constantly reminded that we are behind everyone else and that we need to try harder – do more, have more, and become more.
And in this constant chase to prove our value and our self-worth to the world, we forget about the things that are truly valuable and essential in life.
“That is what compassion does. It challenges our assumptions, our sense of self-limitation, worthlessness, of not having a place in the world. As we develop compassion, our hearts open.” – Sharon Salzberg
For some strange reason, pushing, forcing, and being hard on ourselves and everyone around us is perceived as being strong and powerful. While being soft, kind, gentle, compassionate, forgiving and loving is perceived as being weak.
When in fact, the opposite are true.
Self-compassion is not weakness
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” ~ Lao Tzu
Whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.
This is another paradox: what is soft is strong…
To quote the wise St. Paul,
“When I am weak, then I am strong.”
Radiating self-love and self-compassion
In each moment we are offered the opportunity to let go of this unhealthy need to punish, hurt, and harm ourselves through self-shame, self-guilt, self-criticism, and self-blame. And embrace a more gentle and healthy approach to growing, evolving, and living our lives;
To bow our minds to the wisdom of our hearts and become conscious of the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel, and the choices we make;
To take slow, deep, and conscious breaths and bring our awareness back into our bodies and back into our hearts;
To show up for ourselves – just as we are – with a little more love, gentleness, self-care and self-compassion and make peace with our human imperfections;
To love ourselves as much as we would want others to love us, knowing that by becoming friends with ourselves, we will remove all the obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.
You can do this
“Much of the global population tends to feel shy about radiating love and compassion to themselves. It can seem selfish or self-centered, or we can feel we don’t deserve it. This is because of handed down attitudes from society that people entertained.” ~ Heart Math Institute
For far too long we have been our own worst enemies. Now the time has come to make the shift and become our own best friends.
One day at a time. One thought at a time. One step at a time, we can find our way back to self-care, back to self-love, and back to self-compassion.