I find that when we really love and accept and APPROVE OF OURSELVES EXACTLY AS WE ARE, then everything in life works
Have you ever noticed the way you speak to yourself?
The tone that you use? The words?
How do you speak to yourself when you have made a mistake or are simply feeling low. Do you show some kindness and understanding towards yourself or do you put yourself down?
It is any different from when you are speaking to a friend in a similar situation?
If you are like most people, you probably treat yourself quite differently from how you treat others. As children, not many of us are taught how to love and accept ourselves just as we are. We are also not really shown how to forgive ourselves for our mistakes whether they are intentional or unintentional. It is not our parent’s fault though, our society and the world at large is not always conducive to learning about compassion and understanding. However, the solution is not to point our fingers at our parents, our upbringing or anyone else for that matter.
We need to become more aware of our conditioning and find ways to move forward. Unfortunately, as a result of our conditioning, we often stay stuck in the same patterns that we were brought up to believe is true (and may have been useful earlier). We do not, however, stop to ask ourselves if what we believe is true even TODAY and whether it really serves us anymore.
Being kind to ourselves
So where do you start?
You start right where you are by learning to be kind to yourself rather than being critical and judgemental especially when things go wrong.
Being kind to yourself is much more than stopping self judgement. It involves actively comforting yourself like you would a dear friend. It means that you allow yourself to create some space and stay with your pain when it arises and ask yourself “It is difficult for me right now. How can I help and care for myself at this moment?”
In my Health Coaching practice, I coach women with various chronic health conditions and this area of self love and self compassion is one that we work on the most. Women by nature are caregivers and learn from an early age how to take care and be kind to others. However, they are rarely taught to show the same level of kindness and understanding towards themselves. As a result, many women have never really learned to take care of themselves and indeed think it to be selfish to do so.
As a mother, you may be struggling with a similar issue between feeling guilty and self indulgent when you feel the need to take care of yourself. I have discussed this in details in the video below and in this week's podcast episode. Be sure to check them out below.
A precious gift
When we are suffering, as many of us are currently due to the global crisis, self compassion is a precious gift that we can offer ourselves. Compassion arises in response to suffering and when we are suffering and feel the need to help ourselves, we are experiencing self compassion.
No matter how difficult things get, we can hold ourselves in our own soft, comforting and gentle embrace and soothe and comfort ourselves just as you would your child if he or she was in pain. We do not need to wait for things to change or get better or wait for someone to come along in order to help and support ourselves.
My own journey towards self compassion and self forgiveness
My own journey started when I was taking care of my daughter who was suffering from a severe chronic health condition. My struggles during those years taught me many lessons and some of the most important ones were in self compassion and forgiveness. When our decision to take her to London for a treatment backfired badly and put her in the hospital with a life threatening infection, it took me a long time for me to forgive myself for making that decision.
It had been mainly my decision to take her to a leading specialist in the hope of better treatment. However, I had to learn to forgive myself for putting my daughter in harm’s way even though I had the best of intentions. I learned to show myself some compassion towards my own suffering even as I supported my daughter as she slowly recovered from her ordeal. Today my daughter is a teenager who is leading a healthy and wholesome life!
It took me a while to realise this, but by leaning into my own feelings of pain, frustration, anger, helplessness and showing myself compassion helped me become a better caregiver and prevented me from facing a burn out.
It enabled me to find ways to embody and teach my children how to become emotionally resilient in the face of challenges and led me down a path of healing others as a Health Coach.
I now realise the true meaning of the phrase
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
Tending to the self
There is a close association between self compassion and self forgiveness. When you are aware of the common humanity that we all share then you realise that we are all imperfect beings. We all make mistakes and this makes it imperative that we learn to forgive (others and ourselves) when we cause pain, knowingly and unknowingly. You make mistakes and are worthy of being forgiven just like anyone else.
Forgiveness is NOT about condoning bad behaviour or the person who hurt you. It is about making a choice to move forward and is a choice that you make to help yourself. It starts by learning to forgive ourselves for the mistakes that we make. This takes courage and helps us to let go and move beyond shame and blame.
(In this week’s podcast episode of “Nourish Heal Connect” I take you through a guided meditation which will help you do just that- listen to it below)
You will find that with practice, you will be able to find the courage within to forgive yourself for the mistakes that you make and make better choices moving forward.
As the poet Derek Walcott had said...
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror
and each will smile
at the other’s welcome.