I hope you are well and staying safe.
So happy you have decided to come on this SELF-journey with us.
In the previous post, we (Tami and Eni) outlined some tell-tale signs you may be battling with one insecurity or another. Although we did give some pointers we would now like to dig a little deeper and really explore how we can get rid of some of these insecurities and move into a healthy state of self-compassion.
Do You Have Self-Compassion?
Before we go any further it may be useful for you to complete the Self-compassion scale to see if you have a healthy amount of self-compassion or not.
When I (Tami) first took this test, I scored a 1.72 which indicates my self-compassion was quite low. Now, what does that look like? It meant I used to beat myself up for months on end for any mistake I would make. In fact, if I forgot to beat myself up I would beat myself up about forgetting to beat myself. I wish I was joking lol. I felt the need to feel guilty because that’s what makes me a good person right? Remorse? haha! More like crucifixion and even Jesus rose after 3 days. My low self-compassion meant that I always felt alone in my problems… everyone in the world is living their absolute best life and I am the only one suffering. Not only does it demonstrate some form of mild narcissism – it’s selfish and demonstrates a lack of compassion for others. Low self-compassion meant I was not allowed to have a bad day, if I did not feel my best in my appearance then I looked like sh*t. My filter was pretty black and white, so no in-between and nothing but the best was satisfactory.
“We need to feel special and above average to feel worthy. Anything less seems like a failure.”
My lack of self-compassion meant than any “shortcoming” in relation to life, career, relationships, finances were my fault ultimately because I had made some bad decision somewhere down the line.
Having self-compassion does not actually negate us being wrong or making mistakes – but how do we treat/speak to ourselves after making a mistake or feeling like we are not perfect?
So, What is Self-Compassion?
“Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience.
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”
– Kristin Neff
I am Better Than You
If we are lacking self-compassion how could we possibly feel better than others? Well, that’s sometimes the method of making ourselves feel better.
“People compare themselves to those who are better when they want inspiration to improve, and compare themselves to those who are worse when they want to feel better about themselves.”
Modern society can be described as individualistic and self-promotion is common. All you need to do is scroll on Twitter for 60 seconds and you would have encountered a “drag” a “cancel” and a “brag”.
In fact, what some of us may describe a “brag” or even a “humblebrag” is actually Downward Social Comparison; which simply means “we paint others in a negative light so we can feel superior by contrast”… “enjoy the hood”. I am reading Kristin Neff’s book “Self-Compassion” (Recommended read) and she compares Downward Social Comparison to the “burn book” in Mean Girls. The “it” girls kept this book with embarrassing facts or rumors about others as a way to feel superior. While most of us (I hope) won’t go to the lengths of keeping a burn book, we often look for and point out shortcomings/flaws in others as a way to feel better about ourselves. When it’s put like that it seems real ugly and our first reaction is to deny, deny deny.
But it’s common, usually subconscious but the good news is that it is a behavior we can unlearn.
In no way is downward comparison a sufficient or healthy replacement of self-compassion. When we have an adequate amount of self-compassion we don’t feel the need to make ourselves feel better by effectively turning down another.
“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be…Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” – Wilferd A. Peterson
Applying Self-compassion: A Word with Your Bestie
Imagine your closest friend has come to you with an issue – maybe he/she failed an exam, got fired from his/her job, missed an application deadline, did not get into their university of choice, realised they hate something about their physical appearance, got dumped by their partner, failed their saving goal… whatever.
Now imagine you responding with something along the lines of, “You are such a failure, you mess everything up, you are ugly and unworthy, you should be upset for a really long time because you really messed up. No one else ever messes up this bad, or has a life as bad as yours”.
How much of a terrible person, let alone friend could you be right? You would NEVER, right? Your response would probably be more along the lines of “I understand this is a really difficult time for you right now, but you will get through this. This does not define you, you will move on to bigger and better. We all make mistakes from time to time, you are not alone. You will get other opportunities, what is for you will be for you. Remember everything happens for a reason. I wish you saw what I saw in you, you are so beautiful inside and out”.
So how do you respond to your own life’s “shortcomings” the former or the latter? If it is not the latter, I suggest you change that… for many reasons.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it’s incomplete” – Jack Kornfeild
You need to be your first love; you can’t keep pouring from an empty cup. The same way your best friend is a valued human, though imperfect, still deserving of love, happiness, and success, so are you!
Some important questions to really ask yourself:
- How do you generally react to yourself and your life?
- How do you typically react to events in your life especially difficult ones?
- Do you show the same compassion to yourself as you would others?
Ultimately, the message we want to pass on is that we understand, we have compassion for you in everything you go through. But have you ever had someone give you a compliment you don’t agree with… goes in one ear and out the other? But have you had those days you know you looked GOODT… you receive compliments with so much love and no one can tell you otherwise? You feel good so you spend time more time admiring yourself in the mirror than comparing. Well, that’s how we believe self-compassion should work; when you are compassionate towards yourself you are less closed off and isolated, you are able to properly receive the love and compassion from others and not easily phased by the negative opinions of others. You feel confident in yourself and your abilities and see no desire to compare yourself to the next person.
Techniques to imoprove self-compassion:
Positive affirmations/ manifestation
Exercise / healthy eating
We all have difficulties in our lives at one point or another. We all face one insecurity too. Sometimes these battles are physical and other times it is mental. The passage to self-compassion is just facing these difficulties with a friend, and that friend is you first and foremost. You can see yourself as worthy of all the good things life has to offer whilst also aiming to improve on the areas of yourself and your life you know need work. So, turn down the volume of ‘Negative Nancy’ over your shoulders and turn up the voice of your new best friend… you.
Lots of love,
Eni & Tami x
(Written by Tami)
11 Self-Compassion Affirmations to Practice
Try these if you’re a believer in the power of affirmations, and use them to replace self-criticism or remind yourself to be kind to Number One.
- I accept the best and worst aspects of who I am.
- Changing is never simple but it’s easier if I stop being hard on myself.
- My mistakes just show that I’m growing and learning.
- It’s okay to make mistakes and forgive myself.
- I am free to let go of others’ judgments.
- It’s safe for me to show kindness to myself.
- I deserve compassion, tenderness, and empathy from myself.
- I release myself with forgiveness from today and move forward with self-love to tomorrow.
- Every day is a new opportunity. I won’t let self-doubt or judgment hold me back from the future.
- I forgive myself and accept my flaws because nobody is perfect.
- I’m not the first person to have felt this way, and I won’t be the last, but I’m growing.