How easily do you fall into the trap of being critical of yourself? How often do you compare yourself to others and fall short? Do you believe that if you do not “hold your feet to the fire”, you will lose your edge and not be motivated to accomplish your goals? Others value being seen as humble and “not too big for their britches”. Although I value being around those who are competent and humble, most of us, however, are much too self critical and judgmental. Constant comparisons to others often leads to our unhappiness.
Can you identify one ongoing negative message you tell yourself throughout your day? How much are you judging your looks, your behavior or others’ reactions to you? Do you allow people to evaluate your worth and then feel disappointed? Can you catch yourself in a moment of non-acceptance? What would it be like if you were to just acknowledge what is happening without moving to judge either yourself or others?
Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet said, “ Do you make regular visits to yourself?” This is NOT meant to imply that you should just think about yourself, however, can you imagine how you might grow and heal if you were to find a place of compassion and inner resource inside yourself?
Tara Brach, Ph.D., author of Radical Acceptance speaks of the “trance of unworthiness”. Feeling as if you are not good enough creates suffering and limits the life you can create. We all have “gotten the message” that we must meet a special standard to be acceptable. We must be better, be more, impress others and gain approval.
There is always someone or something that is more or better. When you don’t feel OK with yourself, you judge not only yourself, but others. Can you give yourself a message of self- care and acceptance and identify what you are thinking and feeling without judgment?
Dr. Brach uses the RAIN tool to help identify what is happening in your body so you can begin to move forward in compassion. When you are feeling critical and judging yourself:
R – recognize what you are feeling and thinking
A – allow honestly what is occurring without judgment
I – investigate and be curious as to what the hurt part of you needs
N – not be identified or trapped in that hurt self
Christopher Germer, Ph.D. describes in his book Open Heart, Open Eyes: Practicing the Art of Self- Compassion five different pathways to Self Compassion. They are:
Physical – care for your body and create no harm
Mental – allow your thoughts to arise
Emotional– accept your feelings no matter what they might be
Relational- connect authentically with others
Spiritual – nurture your values
Can you identify one small change you can make today to address one of these ? Perhaps you can choose a more healthy way to eat ? Maybe you can reach out to someone you have lost contact with and been thinking about? Can you accept that your feelings may not always be what you think they “should be”? Can you just acknowledge they are present without feeling that you must do anything right now? What is one important value that you want to bring into your daily life?
The road to self- compassion is not a straight shot, but a winding road that is worth beginning. Will you begin your journey??