Self-Compassion

I don’t know about you, but there are moments when I find it a lot more difficult to be as kind and loving to myself as I am to other people. If a friend came to me down about some some failure or setback, I would do my best to cheer her up and make her believe in herself. When I stumble, it’s a whole other story. I am not nearly as forgiving.

Somewhere along the line I adopted the stupid idea that if I haven’t done something perfectly, I haven’t done it well enough. And that kicks off the nasty little ticker tape in my head that says things like “You’re not good enough! Who are you kidding? Who do you think you are?” I do it with everything from music to writing to, yes, even dieting. Frankly, I would never treat another person that way. I would feel like I was being unreasonable and hurtful.

So why is it okay to do it to myself? Why is it okay for you to do it to yourself?

The answer is, of course, that it’s not. As it turns out, people who find it easy to have compassion for others often score low on self-compassion. Sometimes the same people who are all over nurturing and understanding others forget that it’s okay to be human themselves.

We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to show up and do the best we can. If we keep doing that, we’re bound to make progress. So, next time you’re tempted tempted to be too hard on yourself due to a momentary setback, remember this:

“Change happens not by hatred but by love. Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.” – Geneen Roth

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2 thoughts on “Self-Compassion

  1. A new friend shared this poem with me yesterday, Martina…thought it was a wonderful way to re-image what we might regard of as a ‘failure’.

    Antonio Machado, as translated by Robert Bly:

    Last night as I was sleeping,

    I dreamt — marvelous error! —
    that a spring was breaking
    out in my heart.
    I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
    Oh water, are you coming to me,
    water of a new life
    that I have never drunk?

    Last night as I was sleeping,

    I dreamt — marvelous error! —
    that I had a beehive
    here inside my heart.
    And the golden bees
    were making white combs
    and sweet honey
    from my old failures.
    —From Paul Rogat Loeb, Ed., The Impossible Will Take a Little While. New York: Perseus/Basic, 2004, 93.

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