Self-compassion is probably the issue that comes up most for my clients. Learning how to stop being so hard on yourself, cut yourself some slack, lean into the hard times, and ask for help when you need it.
We have compassion for other people, so why not ourselves? Having compassion means that we offer kindness, warmth and understanding to others who are suffering. We don’t treat them harshly when they make a mistake. All these things are part of being human, we all experience them. We are all imperfect.
So, why then, do we have such a hard time being compassionate to ourselves? Instead of ignoring what we are going through, it’s really important to acknowledge it. Say to ourselves ‘Ok, things are really hard right now, I’m not coping so well, how can I give myself a break and take care of myself? It means that we stop being so hard on ourselves. We give ourselves permission to have a hard time, and come up with ways to help ourselves through that hard time.
All this ties in with being mindful, and also my good enough philosophy. Accepting that sometimes things are hard. Sometimes things are out of our control, and sometimes we need to ask for help. None of this means that we are worthless, or not enough. It simply means we are human. The more we feel compassion for ourselves, the more we will feel compassion for others.
It’s ok to ask for help. I know for personal experience that this can be hard. It can make us feel like we are a failure, especially as a parent. But, the saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is completely true. Our culture has lost this someone, and I’m an advocate for bringing it back. It is an impossible task to think you, as one person, can do it all on your own. Ask for what you need. Most people in your inner circle are only too happy to help where they can. For me, I didn’t want to feel like a burden to the people I was asking. But, when I stopped and really thought about it, not once has anyone I’ve asked ever made me feel like I was a burden. That was something I was putting on myself. It took me a while, but now I ask for what I need. And, I expect others to ask me for what they need too, because my greater sense of self-compassion has lead to an great sense of overall compassion.
I like to think of it like this. We all have a bucket. It’s a ‘capacity of coping bucket’ and it’s full of our ‘stuff’. When we are travelling along well, our buckets are, say, half full. When we hit a snag, we have room in our bucket to cope with that. When we are having a tough time, and our bucket is full, when we hit a snag, we have no more room to fit that stuff in our bucket. We need to take some other stuff out first, otherwise, it will just overflow. This is when we need self compassion the most.
Having a really clear understanding of who you are is helpful in having self-compassion. I’ve written blog posts previously about living authentically and core values, and they all tie in with having self-compassion. Remember, let go of who you think you are supposed to be, and be who you are, give yourself love and support and comfort. Embrace your imperfections.