When you look at the definition of compassion, you see that in Latin “passion” means “suffering” and “com” means “with”. So compassion means “with suffering”. As you may guess, “self-compassion” means “suffering with myself”. All of us suffer, and therefore it is impossible not to be compassionate, no matter how hard we try. Self-compassion is all about asking yourself, “How am I suffering with myself in this moment?”
Now you know that self-compassion is more than being kind to yourself. It is accepting yourself as who you were yesterday, who you are today and who you want to be in your future. Self-compassion is also knowing your strengths and weaknesses. It is about being aware of your capabilities, skills, limits and recognizing your boundaries. Self-compassion does not mean letting go, rather it means forgiving yourself when you failed or made a mistake just like praising yourself when you succeeded or did something right.
One way to start practicing self-compassion is to engage in act of kindness. On a daily basis, you are kind to others. You hold doors for strangers or you say “thank you” to your partner when they do something for you. But, how often do you thank yourself? What do you do every day to be kind to yourself? Were you kind to yourself today?
Some of you may find practicing self-compassion difficult. This is especially the case for those who are hard on themselves. It is possible that now you are successful and believe that being hard on yourself is what helped you get this far. Maybe you are afraid that being kind to yourself will give you permission to give up. Your mind may be telling you that “If I am kind to myself, I won’t be able to maintain my success”. Well, this is not the case.
Imagine your child or your friend made a mistake. She failed and she is upset. What would you tell her? Would you tell her that she is a failure and ask her how could she make such a mistake? Or, would you tell her the following:
“I see you are upset. I’d be upset too. You did your best and you tried. It’s okay. You failed at this task, but you are not a failure. One moment doesn’t define who you are. I am sure next time you are going to do something different so that you can get a different result. No matter what happens, I still love you”.
As you can see, this statement shows compassion. This is an example of an act of kindness. It validates how the other person feels. It is encouraging, accepting and motivating. It is powerful and will affect the other person positively. They will feel that they have your support and you believe in them. Instead of giving up or allowing this moment of failure to define who they are, they will keep trying.
What about when you make a mistake? You failed and you are upset or possibly angry at yourself. What would you tell yourself? Would you tell yourself that you are a failure or engage in self-compassion? The choice is yours.
If you are having difficulty engaging in self-compassion, schedule an appointment with me and learn more about this powerful practice of self-love.