One of the things I’ve learned on my mental health journey is that I can be extremely hard on myself. When I make mistakes or experience setbacks, I am quick to place the blame squarely on my shoulders. When I succeed, I’m reluctant to take any of the credit or share in any part of the praise. And while I know many of the reasons behind this (and since I don’t want to turn this post into a pseudo-therapy session), I’ve never really known what to do about it – which is what I’d like to talk about today.
When I was doing my research for this post, I wanted to figure out if there was a better term to use than being hard or easy on yourself. One word that I found that was rather interesting was self-compassion. I’d never heard this word before, and to read up on self-compassion and what it was felt like it was the perfect fit for what I was looking for. Simply put:
Self-compassion comes down to treating yourself as you would treat someone else you care about—with kindness, understanding, and the awareness that everyone is human, imperfect, but still inherently worthy.goodtherapy.org
Reading this definition caused me to reflect on the way that I treat others. I want to treat the people in my life with kindness and understanding, and I want to do whatever I can to help them get what they need. But for some reason, I extend that compassion to others while refusing to give myself that same type of compassion.
There’s a clear cognitive dissonance here, and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. Whatever we choose to call it, a lot of people have an inner critic and we hold ourselves to a higher (often impossible) standard than we would ever hold others. Speaking for myself, I also think that I’ve mistakenly characterized self-compassion as self-pity – caring about myself can only happen when I’m looking down on myself or my feelings. The concept of lifting myself up actually feels pretty foreign to me.
I’m hoping that in the next few weeks, I can practice going easier on myself, and show myself self-compassion. I don’t quite know what that looks like yet, but I’m interested to see what kind of impact that has on my mental health. Maybe it’s as simple as treating myself the way that I treat others (kind of a Golden Rule in reverse, I guess?). Maybe it goes deeper than that. Either way, I hope that when I make a mistake or face a setback, that I can start showing myself the same kindness and compassion I extend to others. At the very least, it’s worth a try!
Now I want to hear from you! Why is it that we often show more compassion to others than we show to ourselves? Have you found any effective ways to deal with this? Let me know in the comments!