You probably beat yourself up because your house isn't clean enough, you don't do all the things you think a good or successful person should do or you think you should be stronger. While wanting to improve is a good thing, you are probably way harder on yourself than you would ever be on another person.
Louise L. Hay, a bestselling author and motivational speaker, presents an idea that may be foreign to most of us. She says, "You've been criticising yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens."
She's right, isn't she?
It's time to change.
Self-compassion is basically being a good friend to yourself. If a friend were beating themselves up about having a less-than-clean house, you would probably remind them that they were busy spending quality time with their kids and that is far more important. You would tell a friend with unrealistic ideas of productivity that the few good things they are doing are enough. And the friend who thinks they should be stronger than letting tough situations affect them? Well, you would tell them they're strong because they are letting themselves feel the hurt and anger instead of brushing those feelings aside and pretending what they're going through is not happening.
You recognize that those around you are worthy of your compassion. Here is why you do:
Self-compassion allows you to have compassion for others
This idea is what really got me to consider self-compassion. My negative thoughts about myself do not just affect me. They affect how I treat others, and I find it unacceptable to treat others the way I treat myself.
I'm sometimes hard on people in my life. While some of that is a defense mechanism, the better part of it is because that is how I am accustomed to responding to myself. I want treat myself better so I can love others better and be more lovable.
Self-compassion gives you energy
It actually takes a lot of energy to be critical of yourself. And nobody thrives in a negative or relentless environment, especially when it is an environment we have created for ourselves.
I know about trials. And I know that I make them harder when I judge myself for not responding to them in the way I think a perfect person would.
My current set of trials gives me plenty of opportunities to practice compassion toward myself. For example, I had an insane amount of work to do last weekend but was not physically or mentally equipped to do it. So do you know what I did instead? I took a nap. And then I took a walk. And then I slept in the next day. While I still wish I didn't allow myself to do those things, I am more rested and have a clearer mind than I have had in months. I have been able to work like a champ ever since.
I can dwell on how essentially lazy I was, or I can acknowledge that allowing myself to do the things my heart, mind and body needed is enabling me to function at a higher level than I thought possible right now. This not only made a way for me to accomplish the things on my plate last weekend, but it also will help me be able to see these trials through. And I feel great.
If I - an openly Type A, OCD (and whatever other label we associate with people stuck in rigid, often self-critical ways) - can be open to treating myself a little better, surely you have it in you too.
Katie Migliori loves words, stories and connecting with people. Her Creative Writing degree from Utah State University was both a guilty pleasure and a great foundation for her editing career. She can be reached at katie.