10 Ways to be Compassionate… to Yourself
A close friend wrote a thought provoking comment on Facebook about Being Kind to Yourself (in the face of impending January diets). Yesterday I found myself reading an article on Self-Compassion and Compassion-Focused Therapy. What a theme! How are we actually treating ourselves? Is it a disgruntled, cold, slave-driving alter ego in there? Or the loving, caring voice of a friend, who knows the full truth about our character and intentions and accepts and likes at least the vast majority of all of our traits? 😉
My own experience is that prior to being a mama, if I judged myself it was at least still my own (however harsh) judgement of me. Since having children it seems that the weight of that judgement has somehow tripled. Now it’s not just me being disappointed with me; I’ve added to this my preconceived ideas about my children’s judgement of me. It’s not my three year old voicing an opinion that I’m failing her as a mother at any given point in time; it’s me putting a voice over on the situation; audibly narrating over my own feelings of insufficiency, not quite being, not quite doing enough; there’s also that predominantly feminine trait of practically dubbing over other peoples lip movements, hearing not what they said, but how you interpret what they were ‘actually’ communicating.
…It’s time to change!
The article I read (in the Swedish magazine: Amelia 2, 2014) suggests that most of us fall into an in between category of the two extremes. Not beating ourselves up about every single thing, but neither enjoying the benefits of being our own best friend.
I have mistakenly associated the concept of ‘loving’ yourself as bordering egocentricity and conceitedness. It’s never occurred to me that loving myself might not have anything to do with being self absorbed or self focussed, that it might actually mean just treating myself lovingly; treating myself with compassion. Being as kind, encouraging and supportive to myself as I would have been to a friend. Being as gentle, as caring and as un-rebuking .
So, where’s the love?
10 Ways to be Compassionate to yourself:
…10 Ways to Treat Yourself as you would a friend.
1. Be patient with yourself. Gently accepting when your plans don’t exactly go to plan.
2. Be kind to yourself. Not jumping on a bandwagon of criticism.
3. Enjoy that you are you, not wishing to be anybody else.
4. Like yourself for who you are, nothing to do with status or achievement.
5. Honour yourself, a deep set belief in your innate right to be valued.
6. Be gentle to yourself. Let your voice be the friend who cares about you, who wants to lift you up, not stamp on you when you’re down. Abandon harshness.
7. Let go of your list of failings, and don’t start on a new one!
8. Rigorously uphold your own evaluation of your self worth; your integrity and respect for yourself – by listening to yourself. Don’t be dismissive of your emotions or your well being.
9. Be hopeful, hopeful about yourself and your future, inspire optimism.
10. Don’t give up on yourself. At all! …Compassion.
Reach out in love to others & let your practice on them inform your praxis for yourself, and let that practice in it’s turn shape the way you love others.
Imagine our children treating themselves this way 🙂 (More on this topic here: 7 Things Your Child Needs to See You Do).
Want to practice?
Back in the article, there was an idea to write two letters. In the first to write about a recent situation which has left you feeling like a failure, wrong; something you are disappointed about – in any sphere of life, family, work, appearance. To write down all the emotions you feel about that situation. This is not for anybody else to read! The suggestion then was to put that letter aside, and try to change perspective completely. When you start with the second letter, you’re not you anymore, you’re the kind, gentle, wise and compassionate friend. You know exactly what you’re going through, you know exactly why you behave and react the way that you do. A friend who loves, accepts and loves you for who you are. Who cares deeply about you and your wellbeing. Write a letter to yourself from that person. How does that person react to your harsh judgment of yourself? …Seal the second letter and wait a day or so before opening it.
Give yourself some space and open the letter. Let the words sink in. How does it feel to read that? Realise that this is how compassionately and lovingly you can actually communicate to yourself.