Our innate human quality is compassion and kindness. In our natural, relaxed state we are warm and caring. Our self is inclusive and allowing. Such qualities expand us towards consideration, generosity and understanding, trust and forgiveness. We have sympathy for suffering.
We like. We are kind. We are love.
When we are unhappy or upset we can become tight and sometimes ‘mean’ spirited. Our capacity towards generosity and openness diminishes. We shrink in as our heart suffers; we may close off, down and up. We contract our care as we take on negative or challenging thoughts and feelings. We may be aware of this and layer our experience with a sense of dislike about how we are being and behaving.
A layer of negative thinking about negative feeling, and so more difficult feelings. A looping which soon leads away from the original suffering to create its own struggle in its view of itself. And so we can easily lose our connection with love, to a relationship caught up with criticism, judgement and unkindness. Not the support and holding of sensitivity and vulnerability as we might seek from a loved one or friend, but the persecutor of it.
I’m not describing above how we treat others, but how we treat ourselves.
The internal relationship dynamic of our self with itself is the foundation of self-compassion. Where we struggle to accept ourselves and our experience, we struggle to love who we are. When we struggle with liking ourselves it is hard to be kind to ourselves.
Self acceptance is self-love.
I see many people who struggle to accept all aspects of who they are. Many of whom believe they are “not Ok”. This means different things to people; it may mean feeling internally unsafe or lacking in self trust, but for many it means that as a person they don’t feel they are acceptable; not just to others, but to themselves. They feel there is something fundamentally different or wrong with part of them. A painful place to operate from on a daily basis of low self-esteem and perceived powerlessness in relation to others and so a self-diminishing.
We have a tendency to scrutinise and punish our flaws. To berate and beat ourselves up, to measure and compare against who we think we should be, to regret everything we believe we’re not, to grieve the lack and limitations of who we are. Stripping out our worth and beauty. We hurt ourselves through our own harshness.
Refusing to love ourselves is the creation of suffering.
To be kind to ourselves we need to hear how we talk to ourself, see how we think about ourself and notice how respectful we are towards our feelings. Self-care means listening to our emotional needs, respecting our body, our state and our safety; protecting ourselves through our boundaries and considered choices. Self-nurture is the act of taking care of ourselves with an attitude of gentleness and love. Self-compassion means we have sympathy towards our own (even self-inflicted) pain and chose instead of self criticism and judgement towards, acceptance of that which we struggle against.
Parts of ourselves are mean to, and about, other aspects of ourselves. Our inner bitch, inner critic, blaming, nagging, nit-picking, undermining, constantly dissatisfied, vilifying, shaming and raging parts are also possible to meet with compassion. They are terrified of failure, not being good enough and not being lovable
We can look kindly on those mean and critical parts of us and understand them. We can start to explore the reasons for our negative beliefs, challenge the voices that narrate our inner monologue and understand our pain as valid.
We can look after ourselves. We can connect to our innate capacity to respond from the heart. We would do it for someone else we love.