When you think about someone who cares about you and is showing you compassion, how do you feel? How do you imagine them behaving towards you? Isn’t it crazy how we allow others to be compassionate towards us, but don’t give ourselves the same courtesy and kindness? I’m talking to all of you hard asses out there who never give yourselves a break. You expect perfection from yourself and don’t give yourself the space to make a mistake.
If you’ve never really allowed yourself to have warm positive feelings towards yourself or the things you do, if you just go about your day being a work-horse like me, a perfectionist, A-type personality, workaholic, you might be someone who lacks self-compassion. There are lots of names for it but what this really is, is a lack of self-love.
Maybe you screwed up once and were told to you were hopeless. Maybe you were made to feel like you were never good enough and would never achieve anything significant. Maybe like me, you were told that you should consider studying photography because it’s easier than science and math, so when the time came to shine you felt like a giant pineapple sitting in a patch of really smart carrots, afraid to let your rough edges show even though they actually made you what you are.
My point is, you’ve internalized these messages about yourself and possibly allowed yourself not just to believe them, but to fashion your entire existence around them. It’s rare not to ever experience a relationship where we’ve felt criticized, shamed or inadequate. Many of us have, and we never forgot it. It’s what drives us sometimes. But these are only perceived inadequacies from an external source and they don’t reflect who you are today. The only real expert on you…is you.
Yes, we often continue to be hard on ourselves long after the person has gone. We do it to avoid feeling the guilt or sadness we felt back then. We just want to feel secure. Well today I’m challenging you to try something different. Learn to refocus that energy and develop more compassion for YOU.
Change your perspective
Here are four things you can do to shift your way of thinking and start changing your habits around this.
Be kind to yourself
Self-compassion starts with how you feel about yourself and see yourself. You can’t truly have any without first mastering your self-confidence and self-esteem. These words have been bouncing around for a long time and can seem cliché but they have so much weight when you’re struggling with how to love yourself more. Self-confidence means trusting yourself and knowing that you’re capable. Insecurities are a sign that you’re lacking self-confidence in one thing or another so it takes practice and time to develop and should be looked at in all the areas of your life. Self-esteem means seeing yourself in a healthy positive light. It’s your self-perception about yourself and your ability to see your own value and worth. The way you treat yourself will often reflect the way you value yourself. People with high self-esteem practice self-love, self-care, and self-compassion on a daily basis. People who feel unworthy…don’t.
See things for what they are
Own your mistakes but celebrate your good actions too. Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you, and through you. What this means is that you aren’t a victim of your circumstances, you are an active participant in the unfolding of them. Your choices and actions determine the outcome and how more power then any external thing or person. But more than that, something magical can come together as you go through your life: synchronicities, coincidences, the people we meet, the opportunities that present themselves. These things all play a role in creating our current reality. Blaming (whether it’s yourself or someone else) is one of the most disempowering things you can do. Seeing how powerful our choices and actions are can allow us to see the truth and accept it for what it is. The truth is that we can’t change the way others behave but we can change our own perspective and take our own action. Accepting that we can always change what we believe can empower us. The only way to do that is to question what you know, and ask yourself if it’s really true.
Practice self-acceptance no matter what
Self-acceptance allows you to see yourself as who you truly are rather than as you think you should be or as you learned to be over time. This means not only being present, but also letting go of any past beliefs or feelings that hold you back and create negative judgements about who you are and how the world affects you. We can sometimes resist change that’s good for us or perceive it as a threat, but the reality is that change happens whether we accept it or not. Nothing in life is permanent. Often times, our biggest life challenges can become our biggest strengths and most profound life lessons. What matters is how we react in those difficult moments. When we allow ourself to feel compassionate towards others who are being “difficult”, or to do the same for ourselves despite feeling that we’ve made mistakes, we open the door to forgiveness and love instead of kicking ourselves while we’re down.
Be aware of what’s happening inside you
When you become aware, you can better understand your place in the world and reflect on what’s happening inside you. Knowing who you are, what you love, what you dislike, what you’re capable of, can really go far in helping you get through the challenges of life. Many external things are out of our hands. Others can be changed but require the right skills and knowledge. Recognize what you know and what you can do. Be willing to ask for help or reach out to others when something is beyond your reach or ability. Practice of self-compassion and self-acceptance when this happens. We all have something unique to bring to the table and will naturally be better are some things and not so much in others. Don’t beat yourself up! Instead embrace it and learn to work with others to create the life you want and deserve. When we detach from our expectations of being perfect we can see the world (and ourselves) in a more realistic way. People fail hundreds of times before they get to the top. Remember that. It’s your ability to shift your feeling around the situation and recognize the limiting belief that your holding that can stop you from moving forward, not your actual limits.
So what can I do?
Here are two exercises you can start doing to shift your thinking when something goes wrong.
Ask these 10 questions to go more deeply within:
How did I react to the situation? How do I feel about it?
How do I think my reaction affected others?
How did I contribute to the situation? Did I do so intentionally?
How did others contribute? Did they do so intentionally?
Is there anything about the situation that I can change? Are their things that can’t be changed?
Are there different actions or reactions I can take the next time something like this happens?
2 Mantra exercises to accept imperfections:
When you make a mistake or say the wrong thing or even fail at something, be loving to yourself and give yourself permission to be human and imperfect.
Repeat this mantra 5 times: “I am human and imperfect. When I fail I learn. When I learn I grow. Today, I give myself the chance to fail, learn and grow.”
When you feel let down by someone, be compassionate towards them and allow them to make their own decisions, regardless of what you think of them.
Repeat this mantra: “_______ You are human and imperfect. When you fail you learn. When you learn you grow. Today I allow you to fail, learn and grow on your own without holding judgement.”
If you’d like to try more of my mantras, click here for your free 25 Mantras for a
Self-compassion doesn’t mean accepting every single thing that’s done to you or that you do in life. It means recognizing and practicing acceptance of what is, and who you are. We can decide to me judgmental and harsh towards ourselves when we fail, or we can choose to be loving, forgive our mistake and move on. Accept yourself! Forgive yourself! Love yourself! These are the first steps to developing unwavering self-compassion, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
Copyright Authentic World Inc 2020, Michelle Thompson 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I have over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and non-profit consultant, and after years of feeling anxious, confused about who I was and being unsure about what I wanted, I did the work and learned how to get out of my own way. Now I teach others how to find gratitude, balance, and eliminate self-sabotage to create the life they want. I created Authentic World Inc, to offer a supportive space for life coaching and self-directed courses. To find out more about my programs, click here.
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