Having had the privilege of working with many people over the years, it’s absolutely clear to me as people become kinder to themselves then they find it easier to make the positive changes they’re looking for.
There are several related ideas here. And once again the good old researches showing what actually does help and what can hinder.
Self compassion. When we think of compassion we tend to think of others. The friend in distress who we feel for and reach out to help them. The little puppy who’s just injured itself, we feel and want to help it. We need the same approach to ourselves. This does seem to be a challenge to many others in the West. As you develop yourself compassion and become less harsh towards yourself, this releases the capacity for growth and change in willingness to explore new options even if some of them fail.
Self acceptance. You may not have come across this one before. You already understand acceptance. The days 24 hours long, sure you’d like an extra two or three hours to get all that work done however you do accept it 24 hours no questioning no fighting it just is. Acceptance when it comes to ourselves does seem rather difficult. If your typical then you will have had the thoughts such as “I’m useless,” “I’m not good enough,” “They’ll realise I’m faking it!,” and a whole host of similar thoughts. Well you’re really not accepting you where you are. You are the way you are because of the genetics and the life you’ve had up to this point. You are actually doing the best you can. Sure you’ve got standards of the much higher. And that’s good. However acceptance is not about beating yourself up because you have not reached the standard. Once again as your level of self acceptance increases your ability to be resilient, to change and to try new things increases. In all of these ultimately lead to a richer and meal more rewarding life.
Both of these kindness attitudes sounds straightforward, it can take a lot of time to coach somebody to start to view themselves this way especially if there background has been harsh and demanding.
And for completeness, let’s look at self esteem.
We all think that self esteem is the magic, if only we had more of it then things will be fantastic. Amazingly the research says the opposite.
People who record higher levels of self-esteem are more likely to be cold and dispassionate to others.
People with raised levels of self esteem tend to have much higher levels of entitlement and a general attitude of ‘I deserve it.’ Life is not like this. There are very few others who get things just because they deserve it. As a consequence, self-esteem can lead to conditions such as depression when somebody realises they’re not just going to get what they want.
Most of us have to work hard to fit in with society. Reaching out building and maintaining friendships. Doing activities that others value, usually called the job. ‘Being a good neighbour’, ‘a good member of the team’, and so on. These all require effort and attention on our part. As we accept this is how things are, then this does free is up. It doesn’t stop us wanting it to be different however we don’t let this desire getting that way of living the life we want. In the famous book the Road less traveled the opening line is life is hard. Although an old book now the core message is that once we accept this fact things get easier for us we stop fighting and start getting on with life.
So how are you with self compassion and self acceptance? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below.
The featured article below is written by Maria Loreto, a contributing writer at The Fresh Toast.
Sometimes we tend to be our own worst critics, hating ourselves over the little things, like failing to go to the gym for the fifth day in a row. But research indicates that tough self-criticism can cause a lot of damage to our health, and that it’s best to be compassionate with ourselves for our mental and physical well being.