Do you believe that you need to be hard on yourself in order to succeed? Do you think showing yourself compassion is a weakness and only a feel-good way to coddle yourself? Would you change your mind about this if you learned that self-compassion can increase your sense of well-being and ability to cope with life?
Studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly associated with well-being. Self-compassion goes beyond not being critical or mean to yourself. Self-compassion means treating yourself in a caring, understanding, and loving way by offering yourself warmth and non-judgmental understanding instead of berating yourself with self-criticism. Unlike self-esteem, the good feelings of self-compassion do not depend on feeling better in relation to others. Instead, self-compassion is based on embracing the full range of your human strengths and weaknesses.
Self-criticism is a way of life for many. In our highly competitive society, it is not uncommon for us to look for the flaws and shortcomings in others as well as ourselves. Most of our self-critical thoughts are in the form of an inner dialogue, a running (and often brutal) commentary and evaluation of what we are experiencing. This self-criticism can create a mind-state that is defeated, dissatisfied, and anxious.
The best way to combat self-criticism is to understand it and to have compassion for it. Recognize your self-criticism as your attempt to keep yourself safe and to control your life. While you may feel that you need to use self-criticism to motivate yourself, research has shown that self-compassionate people are just as likely to set and meet high standards for themselves as those who lack self-compassion. Recognize that you can more effectively provide security for yourself by giving up self-judgment and by giving yourself compassion and acceptance for your very human experiences.
Self-compassion increases your ability to adapt and relate to yourself when faced with personal inadequacies or difficult life circumstances. If, when under stress, you are nasty to yourself, you ignite mental and physical stress reactions, and compromise your ability to adapt. By showing yourself compassion, you can reduce your anxiety, improve your confidence, and increase your resilience and happiness. Studies have shown that self-compassionate people are more likely to create specific plans for reaching their goals and to create balanced lives.
To have a fuller, happier, and more satisfying life, stop judging yourself! Be a friend to yourself and treat yourself with the same caring and compassion that you would extend to a friend or even a stranger. True compassion Is extended regardless of worthiness or merit. Extend true compassion to yourself!
How can you love yourself if you are angry and judgmental about yourself? How can you break free from that judgment and love yourself? I have found that the path to self-love and greater personal happiness begins with forgiveness.
Have you tried to think your way to loving yourself? Have you created lists upon lists on why you should love yourself? Did you find, as I did, that these logical reasons had little positive impact on your self-judgment? After trying – and failing – to think my way to self-love and self-acceptance, I looked for other methods.
I came across a practice based on a Hawaiian healing process called ho’oponopono, defined by Wikipedia as “family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.” While the original process was performed by Hawaiian elders and was for family mutual forgiveness, the process has been more recently simplified into a mantra by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and Joe Vitale in their book, Zero Limits.
Hew Len and Joe Vitale recommend repeating a mantra for forgiveness constantly. The mantra is:
I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
Instead of only repeating the mantra, I have found it effective to identify something I want to forgive myself for. These issues can be in relation to other people and upsets I am experiencing with them. Perhaps even more importantly, I have also found it highly effective to use it to address those things that I am most critical about myself, such as my issues of fear, doubt, failure, and even self-criticism!
Once I have an issue in mind, I tell myself I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I let myself feel everything that comes up around that issue and I continue to forgive myself for everything associated with that issue. When the issue begins to clear, I tell myself: I love you. Thank you. When I am ready to close, I express my appreciation to the Divine by saying I love you. Thank you.
I have found this to be a powerful doorway to loving myself. When I am able to remove my ego’s attachment to right and wrong, I am able to move past the issue and release negative feelings about myself much more easily. By staying with my feelings around my issues in an attitude of forgiveness, I am able to move into compassion and love for myself.
Use the ho’oponopono to neutralize your negative feelings about yourself and open the door to self-forgiveness and loving yourself! You will find that happiness is more attainable when you love and accept yourself!
Do you constantly criticize and belittle yourself? Are you your own worst enemy? How would you treat yourself differently if you treated yourself like a friend?
The advice to love yourself is a common self-help theme. This is of little help to most people, especially those who expect they should be exceptional and extraordinary in order to be worthy of self-love. While there are spiritual paths that can lead to self-love and self-acceptance, if someone has low self-esteem and doesn’t feel special, it’s hard for many people to love themselves.
An uncomplicated and easy self-care path to feeling better about yourself is to simply treat yourself as a friend. Those qualities that make being a good friend to others work as well for being a friend to yourself.
What are the qualities you value in friendship? Here are some qualities commonly recognized as key elements in friendship:
Acceptance. A true friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t try to force you to be something you are not. A friend accepts both our good qualities and our shortcomings. Can you extend this acceptance to yourself?
Loving. A true friend is loving, kind, and generous. A friend makes us feel not only liked but loved, cherished, and cared for by their words, their tone of voice, and how they treat us. Can you be more loving, kind, and generous to yourself?
Champion. A true friend will cheer you on. A friend uses encouragement rather than insults to motivate you. A friend is optimistic rather than pessimistic about what you can achieve. Can you motivate yourself with positive rather than critical words? Can you be optimistic about your efforts.
Honesty. A true friend will tell you the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. A friend will give you well-deserved compliments but will also call you to task when you are avoiding something or trying to disguise the truth. Can you be honest with yourself?
Support. A true friend will support you when you are going through challenges and will stand by you when you have setbacks. A friend can help put your challenges in perspective. A friend can help you see lessons that you are overlooking in the challenges that you are struggling with. And, a friend will know that sometimes all you need in time of trouble is a friend to listen to and support you. How can you offer yourself more support?
Forgiveness. A true friend is willing to forgive you your errors and mistakes. Can you forgive yourself?
One of the most important relationships you can have in your life is with yourself. Is it time to break old habits and invest in a healthy friendship with your internal self? Make the commitment to be a friend to yourself and increase your happiness by decreasing your self-criticism.
Do you find it’s easier to notice other people’s successes than it is to acknowledge your own? Do you even acknowledge your accomplishments before you raise the bar even higher for yourself and set another goal to achieve? By neglecting to acknowledge your accomplishments, you may be missing an opportunity not only to increase your happiness and self-satisfaction but also to fuel your motivation for future achievements.
Why is it that we have such difficulty in identifying and acknowledging our successes and our strengths? There are a number of reasons for this:
Why is it even important that we acknowledge our successes? Our past successes can give us a clear sense of our ability to overcome obstacles. Knowing that we have succeeded before can give us the motivation we need to persevere when we are faced with new challenges.
I would encourage you to perform an annual inventory of your large and small successes. Identify those things that you feel good about either starting or finishing. Don’t measure your successes against those of anyone else. This is only for you. This is your chance to see what you have done and to acknowledge your efforts and personal successes.
Are you finding it difficult? If so, look at yourself with the same loving perspective of a friend. What have others complimented you on or praised you for? When did you notice yourself brushing aside compliments or claiming that what you did was nothing special? Allow yourself to own each and every one of those achievements.
Acknowledge and celebrate your successes! Be a friend to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back!
Are you a friend to yourself? Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com to find practical tips on how to recognize your brilliance and to treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to a free Daily Moment of Inspiration and each day receive a quote from Women with Spirit: Daily Quotations by Inspiring Women (distributed by Amazon). Georgiana Carollus, MA, personal, spiritual, and intuitive coach offers coaching and resources to help accelerate your process of friending yourself at the Friend Yourself Project website.
Are you your own best friend or your own worst critic? Does your mind generate a constant chorus of self-talk criticizing you and your choices? Is it time to change your mind – specifically, your way of thinking and talking to yourself?
The words we say to ourselves go to the very core of our being. These words shape what we think of ourselves and what actions we take. The brain believes what we tell it and we become what we think about most. We can be our own strongest motivator or our own worst enemy. We can, in fact, create our own happy or unhappy state of mind.
What words and tone do you use when you talk to yourself? Chances are, it’s unlikely that you would ever talk to a dear friend or loved one with the same tone and criticism that you shower on yourself. In fact, there is probably no one whom you treat as badly as you treat yourself.
Our culture sanctions the idea that you should be hard on yourself. Do you believe, as many do, that self-criticism serves to keep you in line? And, that if you weren’t self-critical, you would become overly self-indulgent?
Has all this self-criticism and negativity helped? Has it motivated you to improve or meet your ideal? Studies show that children and adults are more motivated by encouragement than by threats. Research also suggests that giving yourself a break and accepting your imperfections may lower stress, depression, and anxiety, and improve happiness and life satisfaction.
The most direct solution to short-circuiting self-criticism is to give up judging and evaluating yourself and to replace this with self-compassion, an acceptance of yourself despite your perceived weaknesses. This is not about self-indulgence or lowering your standards but rather about accepting your humanness and accepting that ups and downs are part of life.
Cultivating self-compassion provides a foundation of love, acceptance, and security for yourself despite the circumstances of your life, despite your failures or disappointments. Self-compassion looks beyond your actions, values you for yourself and your imperfections, and respects all aspects of your humanity. In short, you exercise self-care and give yourself a break!
Many of us find it easier to extend compassion to others. One way to extend it more to yourself is to commit to treating yourself as well as you would treat your friends and loved ones. Encourage yourself and acknowledge all of your efforts, just like you would for a friend. Be kind to yourself and be your own cheerleader, your own motivator, and your own comforter.
What would your life be like if you had a more positive set of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about yourself? Find out by gifting yourself with self-compassion and by being a friend to yourself
Do you hold yourself to a measure of happiness that you think you need to obtain and maintain? How is that working for you? Do you become angry and judgmental about yourself when you aren’t able to maintain the level of happiness you think you should have?
What if you no longer equated unhappiness and failure?
Maintaining a happiness high is unrealistic. And, as long as we judge our emotions as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, we are refusing to embrace all the aspects and parts of ourselves that make up our wholeness.
All feelings, including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, joy, grief – every feeling! – is impermanent. Every feeling is there so we can experience life to the fullest.
As humans, we want to embrace and enjoy those feelings that make us feel good and we tend to avoid those feelings that make us feel bad. We push away those bad feelings and try to escape them as soon as possible. But – as the saying goes, what we resist, persists.
I have found that if I stay with the feelings that make me uncomfortable, they transform and release. In much less time than I expect, they release their grip on me. If, however, I try to ignore those feelings, they hold a grip on me that I can’t shake. It is only by facing them that these feelings transform.
Imagine loving every feeling because it adds to the richness of your life. And imagine, loving yourself for your ability to have and experience all of your feelings.
Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.