March 1st has flown by already! How are your New Years Resolutions holding up? Have you been exercising more? Eating fresh fruit every day? Setting aside time for yoga, meditation etc? Yeah, not so much. But even more importantly, are you beating yourself up over it?
Even with the best of intentions, we tend to fall back into familiar habits. Fret not! It is never to late to start new patterns today. In a previous post, I suggested setting monthly resolutions, monthly short term concrete goals rather then annually. I encourage you to start practicing self compassion today, rather then make physical changes, look inward, and make attitude changes. What is self compassion? It relates to self esteem and self confidence, but is a more practical route towards developing successful habits and feeling good about oneself.
Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must become aware that they are suffering. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means putting aside your judgements, and offering understanding and kindness to others. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (instead of pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself even when you are having a tough time, experience failure, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with your personal failings – after all being perfect is neither realistic nor possible. You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your human shortcomings. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will experience frustrations, loss will happen, you will make mistakes, hit obstacles, and fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality we all share. The more you move toward accepting this reality rather then fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and as well as your fellow humans.
Do you feel that you lack sufficient self-compassion? Now check in with yourself – are you judging yourself for this too? We can all benefit by learning to be more self-compassionate, and now is the perfect time to start.
Be kind to yourself,