Sometimes I feel my life has been a long adventure in discovering - one by one - all the mistaken beliefs I once bought into. And I am certainly not done!
One of these misunderstandings was around self-compassion.
The teachings I grew up with often conflated selfishness with self-compassion. I remember when I first moved to California and was making new friends. One afternoon, a friend I had plans to see that evening called me up and told me she needed to cancel because she was tired and needed some “me time.” Well, believe it or not, that for me was a revelation. You can do that?!?
See, I grew up being told it was selfish and not to be done to cancel on someone - especially not at the last minute. If you really wanted to cancel you better give an acceptable excuse such as making up a stomach bug, work or family commitments, or an emergency. Never, absolutely never, was it acceptable to cancel just because you felt you needed some “me time.” Lying in this case was preferable instead.
What an incredible feeling to be able to say I was tired! Or that I needed some time alone. Granted, it still took me a while to feel OK doing that, but now it seems totally crazy to make up an excuse and to lie rather than share how I feel. Without mentioning the impact of inauthenticity on relationships…
Another belief around self-compassion that I have seen a lot of is that self compassion makes you weak, or won’t build character, that you need discipline and hard work to build resilience.
If you equate power with force, domination, or accumulating things and outer success, maybe the above might make sense… in reality, though, self-compassion is precisely what enables us all to thrive, to be more compassionate and loving towards each other, to rest and recharge so we can see things more clearly and perform better. Self-compassion helps us tap into our own inner sense of security and comfort.
The louder your inner critic (the antithesis of self-compassion) the harder everything is. The more warmth and kindness you experience inside, the more resourceful, present, peaceful, and loving you become. Self-compassion makes you more capable of feeling compassion for others, creating a positive loop of warm feelings and healthy connection in your life.
So what is self-compassion? Self-compassion is an inner orientation towards self-kindness, self-acceptance, self-awareness, and self-love. It goes hand in hand with the concept of radical acceptance. And it lets your deepest and truest Self shine through.
How can you be more self-compassionate today?