When we think of compassion, we typically think of being compassionate towards others – towards those less fortunate than ourselves, or those with whom we’re in conflict
But what about compassion towards yourself?
How forgiving are you of your own shortcomings, limitations or failures?
Do you judge yourself more or less than you would a close friend? A stranger?
We all live with an inner critic — that voice in our head that tells us we’re not enough, that we need to be better, different. That voice that is somehow never satisfied.
Some of our inner critics are stronger than others, and sometimes our inner critic is limited to certain areas of ourself or our life where we feel particularly insecure.
The trick of the inner critic is that it actually has a good intention — it wants us to be better, to do better. And that is (usually) an honorable intention.
The problem is that the inner critic’s strategy for getting us there is to focus in on every perceived flaw it views as standing in our way.
It is never satisfied with us, or with what is, now.
There is always more to do, more to fix, something to change.
This can become an endless hamster wheel that leaves us constantly striving, never satisfied, and feeling defeated and unworthy –
Not exactly the state that calls forth our best self.
Compassion for ourselves is the stepping stone out of this cycle with the inner critic.
When we choose to be compassionate with ourselves, rather than judgmental, we re-align with ourselves. We bring peace to that raging internal battle with the inner critic.
Think back to the last time you judged yourself for a mistake, a shortcoming, a flaw.
Think about the things you said to yourself. Would you say them to a friend? A family member?
What would it have looked like if instead you had been compassionate with yourself? What would you have said? And how would you have felt as a result?
This Christmas season, give yourself the gift of being more compassionate with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis —
and the peace, joy and relief that come from getting on your own side, and having your own back