- Do you feel sad or angry with yourself for making mistakes?
- Are you often kinder to other people than you are to yourself?
- Are you struggling with low self-worth?
- Are you “should-ing” all over yourself? Obsessed with “should do this, should have done that”?
- Do you wish you could be as kind to yourself as you are to other people?
You may be trying hard to raise your self-esteem and feel better, all the while feeling worse. You might feel like everyone else has it all together and feels good and happy about themselves – so why can’t you? Maybe you are very frustrated with yourself when things in your life aren’t the way you’d like them. You might wonder why things can’t just go your way. It can be frustrating to want to feel differently or have circumstances be different in your life, but not know how to make that happen.
Maybe you know you’re really hard on yourself, but think it’s just the way you are. You may not believe there’s any way you can feel differently until you achieve this goal, or think that, or do this, etc…How can you be kind to yourself if you are not where you want to be?
Many People Struggle to Be Kind to Themselves
You are not alone. Persistent self-judgment and self-blame are very common problems. It can feel like an unpleasant emotion is lurking behind the scenes before you are conscious of it – a quiet weight, preventing you from being who you really are.
Self-doubt, fear and old conditioning often come together inside of us to make us forget the truth about ourselves. We are often taught as children to be humble, not to brag and sometimes, even worse, that we are not as good as other people.
Sometimes, in the best of cases, people teach us this accidentally. Parents often have good intentions but just don’t know how to foster healthy self-compassion in children. They may have encouraged you not to cry or feel certain things. Or, maybe they told you that you are “the best.”
Everyone, even parents, is doing the best they can with the tools and resources available to them. Your parents were probably trying to help you feel better, but they didn’t know that telling people not to feel the way they feel makes things much worse. This unintentionally teaches a child to not listen to how they feel anymore, and of course, if you don’t know how you feel, you can’t express it. Even by calling you “the best,” your parents were teaching you to judge yourself and compare yourself to others. You may have done this throughout your life without even realizing it. All of these lessons lead to a bunch of feelings and judgments swirling inside with no way to get out.
Your buried emotions and self-criticisms can get activated any time you may make a simple mistake, such as missing an exit on the freeway. All of a sudden, you may be calling yourself an idiot without knowing why. Or, you may be triggered by an old judgment you weren’t even aware of, always comparing yourself to other people and never measuring up to your goals.
Mindfulness-Based Self-Compassion Means Giving Yourself the Same Kindness You Would a Good Friend
How many times have you listened to a friend’s problem and responded with kindness and compassionate advice? And, how many times have you had a similar problem but responded to yourself with criticism, judgment and blame?
Many people have a much easier time listening and being compassionate toward others – whether a friend, child, co-worker or other family member – than themselves.
Why can we see vulnerability and humanity in our friends and family but expect ourselves to be perfect? You may know that your loved ones are still wonderful and deserving people who are just struggling, but view yourself as broken, wrong or stupid when you for make mistakes or feel emotions you “shouldn’t” be feeling.
Learning how to give yourself love and compassion, no matter what, will help you feel happier, more at peace and more confident. Developing mindfulness-based self-compassion can help you to give more to others as well. Many people I have worked with have described integrating greater self-love and self-acceptance into their lives as “life-changing.”
In sessions, I can help you identify some of the things that make you feel worthless or angry with yourself. Once you can understand some triggers for your own self-judgments and learn some simple tools for shifting them into kindness and compassion, you can begin the process of changing your life as well. You are worth learning how to be kind to yourself.
Ok, I want to learn more about how to practice Self-Compassion, but have some more questions…
What is the difference between “Mindfulness-Based Self-Compassion” and “Self-Esteem”?
Self-Esteem is based on self-evaluations. If you’re doing “well,” you evaluate yourself highly and feel good. But what about when you believe you are not doing well? This leads to judgment of yourself and decreased self-esteem.
Self-compassion, in comparison, accepts the reality of life. Sometimes, things are great. Sometimes, they’re not. By developing self-compassion, you can start to believe that you always have value, regardless of your circumstances, what you’ve accomplished or what mistakes you think you have made.
Research indicates that, in comparison to self-esteem, mindfulness-based self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior and less narcissism and reactive anger.
If I’m “compassionate” towards myself no matter what, how will I maintain my motivation?
Sometimes people equate self-judgment with motivation. You may fear if you stopped beating yourself up inside all the time, you may lose your drive to achieve things in your life. If you were nicer to yourself, wouldn’t you stop trying?
Actually, the opposite is true. When you accept yourself completely as you are, and become aware of your limiting judgments, you can truly become free to achieve your full potential. These old judgments that may feel like drive to succeed may actually be coming from unconscious beliefs that may not be true and are probably creating unhappiness in your life. Self-compassion will help you not only achieve more of what really matters to you, but also increase your happiness and satisfaction with life along the way.
I don’t know how to feel compassionate toward myself if there are things I know I need to change.
That’s what I’m here for. To help you learn how to feel compassion and acceptance of yourself exactly as you are right now. Self-acceptance is a vital component of positive mental health and healthy changes going forward. Until you know that you are worthy of making change, you won’t do it. You deserve it, and I can help you believe that too.
I’m here to help you learn how be kind to yourself. You are worth it. Please call me at (206) 799-0936 or send me an appointment request. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about mindfulness-based self-compassion and my practice.