Ever noticed that you find it easier to be compassionate and gentle towards someone else other than towards yourself?
What is it with that…?
Well, you know that little voice that lives in there with you…
Ya know, the one that always has a lot to say…
The one that is a bitch to you most of the time…?
Well, this is the main reason why you find it so difficult to show yourself compassion. Because she judges the hell out of you and others constantly. She scolds you as your parents used to. She tells you that you’re never good enough.
She says to you, Try harder. Do it better. You shouldn’t have eaten that. Who do you think you are… they won’t want to hear what you have to say!
It can be like a war zone in there sometimes, no wonder you are exhausted.
I’m going to share with you 4 mythical beliefs about self-compassion and then 3 ideas on how to create self-compassion for yourself. Because no matter who you are, you are deserving of love and compassion, ESPECIALLY from yourself. Let’s dig in shall we…?
4 Mythical Beliefs about Self-Compassion
Your lack of self-compassion is most likely because of these four untrue thoughts:
1. If I’m self-compassionate then I will only indulge myself.
That’s what I use to think self-compassion was; to be soft with myself and feed mysef chocolate because that alwyas made me feel better (at the time).
But I’ve learned something important that helps me with that little bitchy voice—the difference between self-indulgence and self-compassion…
Self-compassion involves your health and well-being. Self-indulgence is about getting anything and everything you want without thoughts of well-being.
Self-compassion is about becoming aware of and sitting with your pain and providing thoughts or actions that will help you to feel better about the situation during and afterwards.
Self-indulgence numbs and denies your pain. For example, the chocolate you eat when you’ve had a bad day to make yourself feel better, that’s not self-compassion, that’s what you do because you use food to make yourself feel better – which isn’t bad by the way, it’s just a pattern you have got in, usually due to deeper issues in your past. Then soon after or the next day (usually whilst you are eating!), you feel bad about it and then scold yourself for it.
2. I won’t be motivated if I don’t criticize myself.
Somewhere, deep down, you and I might actually believe that we need that inner bitch to keep us motivated in life and that without it, we would never reach our goals.
And it’s also possible to think that the inner bitch is there to help keep us safe and stop us from getting hurt.
But guess what? We don’t need it anymore. Being compassionate with ourselves allows for a much healthier, kinder motivation.
“The motivational power of self-criticism comes from fear of self-punishment whereas the motivational power of self-compassion comes from the desire to be happy and healthy and to reduce our suffering.”
3. It’s selfish for me to be compassionate towards myself.
Many people, women especially, are taught to put others ahead of themselves. Self-compassion can seem like the opposite of what you “should” be doing: taking care of others.
But how will beating yourself up help you be kinder to others? The source of our compassion to others will only be more authentic when we are able to show compassion to ourselves first.
4. Self-compassion is for wimps.
Put on your big girl panties and stop whining!
Get a grip!
Our society tends to reward toughing things out more than it does being kind and nurturing to yourself.
But the truth is that the strongest people are also the ones who can ignore cultural norms and feel genuine compassion for themselves and their circumstances. They do what feels right, not what society or others tell them they should do.
3 Ideas to Create Compassion for Yourself
1. Be kind to yourself
The best way to think about being kind to yourself is to think about a friend.
Go ahead. Do it now. Visualize your best friend.
Now imagine she comes to you and says she is struggling because she can’t stop binge eating. She wants to stop but for some reason, she can’t, and she feels so low and down about herself, she just wants to feel happy about her body and in control around food.
Would you say to her, “Well, you just need to get a grip and stop eating crap!”
What? You wouldn’t say that to a friend? Would you say it to yourself?
It’s more likely that you would hug your friend and say, “Oh no! I’m sorry you feel this way. Let’s talk about it and come up with a solution to help you. Don’t forget, you used food as your friend when you were in an abusive relationship so it’s understandable that you still use food to make yourself feel better. I know people who have overcome this and so can you.”
You can be kind to yourself in this way, too. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend who is suffering.
Just as you would hug your friend, soothe yourself as well. Put your hands over your heart or locate the spot in your body where your hurt is hiding and gently place both hands there.
Speak kindly to yourself. Call yourself by an endearing name.
“Oh, sweetheart. She’s right. You have used food for so long to comfort you. It’s not your fault you have this pattern You CAN overcome this. Let others help you.”
2. You are not alone!
Many times when you criticize or judge yourself, you feel isolated. It seems as though you are the only one in the world who has that particular flaw or who is struggling with something.
And yet, we are all imperfect. We all suffer. And so we are all connected by our shared humanity.
One of the wonderful outcomes of self-compassion is our enhanced sense of belonging, the feeling that we are all in this together.
The next time you are looking in the mirror and not liking what you see, remember that you are an integral part of a flawed, wonderful, wounded, miraculous human tribe.
3. Be mindful
How will you know that you are suffering if you are repressing your pain, rationalizing it, or busy with problem-solving?
You must allow awareness of your pain to enter in. Being mindful is about noticing what is happening in the moment and having no judgment about it.
Notice your hurt and just be with it, compassionately and with kindness.
And note that trying to make pain go away with self-compassion is just another way to repress pain and hurt. Self-compassion is about being with your suffering in a kind, loving way, not about making suffering disappear.
We will always have pain. But as Shinzen Young has noted: Suffering = Pain x Resistance. The more you resist your pain, perhaps by trying to make it go away, the more suffering you will experience.
Mindfulness allows you to stay with the pain without the resistance.
After thinking about a difficulty you have, find the place in your body that holds the pain of your problem and then place your hands on it.
Then, just be with your pain—don’t try to rid yourself of it—and allow kindness and compassion to surround it.
The pain you feel might actually feel okay when you hold it in this compassionate space.
The soft waves of compassion surrounding your heart will help to heal you of any shame.
I choose self-compassion in my life, especially when that bitchy inner voice starts up.