“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ― C.G. Jung
I think we all know what compassion is. We know it when we feel it. We’re going through a particularly rough patch and someone is kind to us. They express sympathy for what we’re going through. We feel validated, understood, loved. Compassion is one of the most beautiful things we have to offer one another. But what about our relationship to ourselves? Some people don’t even consider that a thing. Some people would ask “What does that even mean?” I believe we have an actual relationship with our Selves whether we are aware of it or not.
Sometimes it’s easier to be nice to other people than it is to ourselves. We tell ourselves horrible things: you can’t do that; you’re bad at that; you’re too fat/short/old/unattractive/unsuccessful; you never get it right; you always get it wrong. If you heard someone talking like that to your best friend or your child, what would you think? I know I’d be horrified and furious! I’d rush to the defense of that loved one. Why do we allow ourselves to get away with such cruel behavior to ourselves? Why, on earth, do we tolerate that? It comes down to insecurity. We don’t feel we deserve self compassion. After all, if we don’t criticize ourselves half to death, how will we ever improve?
As a teacher, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t work. We don’t get better by feeling lousy about ourselves. We don’t improve because we beat ourselves up. Honestly, think back to the teachers you’ve had. Which ones taught you the most? What classes did you do best in? I’d wager, the best teachers you had weren’t mean. I would guess they were encouraging; that they empowered you to unlock your potential and do your best.
Try this: if you’re going through a tough time, acknowledge it. Look in the mirror and say “I know this is hard. It would be hard on anyone. It’s going to be ok. You are going to be ok. You’re strong and resilient and you will live through this.” Maybe it sounds corny, but isn’t this how you’d talk to your best friend? Try being a good friend to yourself. Be patient, forgiving and compassionate. I think you’ll find it moves you along a lot faster than beating yourself up.
This was taken just days after my second breast cancer diagnosis. A walk on the trail was just the self care I needed.