One of the hardest things for us to practice is self-compassion. This has been true in my own life. My loud inner critic, coupled with my mental/emotional tendency toward intrusive negative thoughts, anxiety and depression, have made self-compassion both a challenge and purpose in my life.
In my time as a teacher, father, friend, etc. I’ve found that this is true not just for myself but for many of us. Maybe there are things we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for, maybe we were taught from our parents or friends or religious upbringings that we didn’t truly matter or that it was wrong or selfish to show ourselves love. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Self kindness, self-compassion, are so important to this life of ours. They are Vital with a capital “V”.
Self kindness may be difficult for us to practice at times, but I believe it’s really the beginning of everything we are looking for in this life. The ability to develop unconditional love and acceptance of ourselves is the lesson that we really need to learn. As we practice this loving kindness for ourselves, I believe we naturally extend it to the world around us.
We don’t have to strive to accomplish radical self-compassion overnight. We can practice with patience and kindness. We can take baby steps, turning ourselves into little kindness projects. We can begin by devoting ourselves to speaking more kindly ourselves, speaking to ourselves in the same way that we would speak to a friend or small child. We can decide to do what we can to take care of our mental, physical and emotional health. We can practice loving kindness meditations that deliberately include ourselves. We can be brave enough to acknowledge when things are really difficult. We can congratulate ourselves and feel grateful without guilt when we accomplish things, great or small. We can comfort ourselves with a hand over the heart and deep breathing; being present with kindness for ourselves in the same way we would a dear friend. We can speak to a loved one or therapist (I see a therapist regularly) if we are really struggling or just as a way to maintain our mental health.
As we learn to treat ourselves with kindness, we learn how vital self-compassion is for each of us to simply make it through the next minute, the next moment and each step of life itself. Self-compassion underscores the belief in our fundamental goodness and worthiness. As we see goodness and worthiness in ourselves, we more easily see it in others. As with everything else on this path, it starts from within.
My wish for anyone reading this is to take a moment right now, and say something kind to yourself. Gently devote yourself little by little to the profound and necessary practice self-compassion. Always remember, you are enough.