Thursday, February 2, 2012

Self Compassion- it does exsist

Yesterday I talked a little about self compassion and beating yourself up. Today I am going to expand on that a little more.

 I am very critical and judgmental of myself.  I set pretty high standards for myself and get angry when other people don’t do the same. I used to believe that how you treat yourself and how you treat others should be drastically different. I considered myself a kind, compassionate, understanding person when it came to others but never would have considered showing myself those same qualities.

As humans, we are usually better at giving advice then taking it. How many times have you found yourself giving advice to someone and then convinced yourself that same advice didn’t apply when you were in the SAME situation because you are “different”? We are all guilty of it and realizing how often I do this was a huge turning point for me.

I am not different and neither are you. We are all unique in our own ways but we all have the same basic needs. Just like we all need air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat, we also all need love and connection. We also all DESERVE compassion and self-compassion is included in that. You can’t truly be non-judgmental of other people if you are continuously judging yourself. (Trust me on this one; I’ve learned it the hard way.)

Being super hard and critical on yourself doesn’t make you a better person. I thought being hard on myself made me stronger. I believed that if I was kind and forgiving to myself I would become lazy and continuously make the same mistakes. That I would lose my morals and my drive. But that hasn’t been true at all. Being compassionate towards yourself doesn’t mean being unrealistic. It doesn’t undo your wrong doings or make you a better person. We are all human and make mistakes. We all have our moments that we aren’t proud of. But does yelling at ourselves and dwelling on them really make them better? This may not be true for everyone but speaking from experience I have found that I am less likely to make the same mistake again if I stop and rationally look at the problem and then forgive myself, as opposed to negatively beating myself up.

Everyone has an inner critic. I wouldn’t wish my inner critic on anyone. If “it” were a real person, we wouldn’t be friends. In fact we wouldn’t even be enemies. I would have no patience or desire to put up with it and would have ditched it a long time ago The things that I have caught myself saying to myself (I know that sounds odd) are things that I would never say to anyone else, even a murderer. I have made some wrong turns in my life, but nothing that equates to the harsh words that I have uttered to myself in a moment of frustration.

You know the saying “treat others like you would want to be treated.” Well the saying works in reverse as well. Treat yourself like you would treat others. It really is as simple as that. One of my big pet peeves is being late. I am one of those people that believe that being early is on time and being on time is late. I plan so much extra time in advance to get to a wherever I am going in order to avoid being late.(or on time for that matter) So much so, that I am usually there unbelievably early but that is besides the point. You know that day where your alarm doesn’t go off, your cat threw up on the floor, you can’t find the right jeans to wear and then you get stuck in traffic? Time has slipped away and you end up late to wherever you are going.

We have all had days like this and these are the times when self compassion is crucial. Even though I always feel that on days like this we should be able to crawl back into bed and start over.

In the past (and occasionally still) situations like this would throw off my entire day. When something like this happened I would spend the entire morning telling myself how awful of a person I was and coming up with all of these horrible things that I imagined the person that I was going to meet was thinking. (ex.  She is lazy. She doesn’t care about her job. Our meeting means nothing to her.etc.) The amount of negativity towards myself that I could cook up was ridiculous and what made matters worse is the fact that I allowed it to determine the rest of my day.

Now if a friend or colleague is late, I don’t automatically jump to these same conclusions. I give the other person the benefit of the doubt and assume that they must have a valid reason for not making it on time. I do not attach moral judgments to their tardiness and I don’t jump to conclusions. I may be a little frustrated but I don’t assume anything, especially pertaining to their character.

Whether they got stuck in traffic, overslept or just maybe aren’t someone who values time like I do, I am usually willing to be understanding and forgiving. More often then not I find myself empathizing with them and reminding them that shit happens. Now if I can do this for them, who says that I am not able to pay myself the same respect?

For me this self compassion thing is a work in progress. I still have my moments where my inner critic is loud and proud but the difference now is that I can normally stop it before it spirals out of control. When I catch myself in the trap of beating myself up I stop and take a few deep breaths. I remove myself from the situation and think” how would I respond if this was someone else”. Most of the time my tone drastically changes and I am able to become much more forgiving. I am also able to realize how much I am overacting and how inappropriate my behavior is in relation to whatever I have done.

Being more compassionate towards myself has helped me become more compassionate towards other people and A LOT less judgmental. Whenever you find yourself in the trap of beating yourself up remember to pause for a moment. The more often you do this the easier it gets and the more you learn about yourself.

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