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Having compassion is something I don’t think many people struggle with. Having self-compassion is something I think everyone struggles with. Most people I’ve met in my life have a great capacity for having compassion and empathy for others. They can—on as deep a level they can reach—have compassion and understanding for a situation. But, when it comes to ourselves, we are, without a shadow of a doubt, our own worst critics. We lack compassion, understanding, empathy, and even tolerance for ourselves. We become so irritated by our mishaps and slip-ups that they suddenly become blown to great proportions of why we can’t move forward and why we’re stuck. When instead, we should be reminding ourselves of our humanity. We have off days, days we’re not in full alignment, and days we’re just down.
When we have those moments, rather than criticizing ourselves and facing a firing squad of our design, we can simply remind ourselves that tomorrow is a new day for new opportunities. But I know it’s not that simple. It takes practice and reprogramming to get to a place where you genuinely believe that. It’s more than just telling ourselves, “today’s a new day” and moving on. We have to experience the mindset shifts while treating ourselves with compassion and giving ourselves space to decompress and reset from difficult moments. So the question I’d like us to ask ourselves is: If we regard ourselves as the most important person in our lives and we’re living intentionally, working in full alignment with the universe on our highest vibration, why is it that we can’t offer ourselves compassion in a place of imbalance, discomfort, or lack of alignment?
Sympathy and concern for suffering or misfortunes. Let me ask you a question. When you’re on the upswing of a few bad days, and you’re feeling better, more motivated, and more driven, do you feel yourself healing? In a moment of high vibration energy, what do you feel internally happening? What was the sudden change that brought you to this shift? Was it a sudden burst in energy? A kick in the ass from someone else? Or was it that you offered yourself a bit of compassion and healing, picked yourself up, and decided to move forward? I’d like to think that’s how most of us move forward. We don’t necessarily need the aid of another, just ourselves and a little compassion. Now, most of us won’t actually characterize that moment as self-reflection, healing, and compassion, but as that energy burst I mentioned.
So, how do we clarify that process? That way, we know when and how to have compassion for ourselves rather than deflecting? Having self-compassion means stepping back and asking what you need in the moment. Not what you should be doing or what you need to be doing for work or school. What does your mind, body, and soul need in this moment to decompress and reset? We tend to forget that the things we think are important right now and “need” to get done right now can often wait till tomorrow. But our mental and emotional health can be greatly affected when we put them off. This relates to the discomfort we may feel from addressing difficult emotions. We often feel uncomfortable putting ourselves first.
How to Have Self-Compassion
To break this down into a step-by-step process would be difficult. Growing in the department of self-compassion is going to look different for everyone. But the first step, I’d venture to say, is the same for everyone. Recognize where you’re being unkind to yourself; instead of putting a band-aid on the wound, open yourself up to the potential pain to begin the healing process. Deflecting in a moment of difficulty is like putting duct tape on a shattered window. The tape will last for a few days, but at the next rainfall, it will get wet and the “fix” you attempted will crumble with all its pieces. Having compassion for yourself means understanding that your decisions are not always going to be perfect and your emotions are not always going to be at 100%.
Self-compassion starts with getting to know who you are at the core. Growing your relationship with yourself and learning to love the best (and maybe not-so-best) parts of yourself. Do some exercises in self-love and self-talk. Practice affirmations, reacquaint yourself with your values, goals, and dreams. Get to know who are at your very core. If you find you don’t love some parts of yourself, well, that’s where intentional living comes in. Begin to make some healthy and needed changes in your life. Rather than criticizing yourself and looking at all the things you “don’t like” about your life, work to start changing them. Having self-compassion and healing for yourself is often followed by a season of growth and change. When we can learn to love ourselves to our greatest ability, we can also learn to love the parts of ourselves we like to change and instead of sulking on those parts and just leaving them be, we take action.