Mindfulness and Finding Life Balance – Part 12 — Turn Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion This Holiday

Turn Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion This Holiday

During the holiday everyone thinks they have to be ho-ho-ho! but sometimes faking-it-until-you-make-it-so, doesn’t work.

Does your life look like it is falling apart or just falling into place? Either way, the holidays have a way of overwhelming us unless we take charge. Consider inviting, rather than resisting, the stress around you. If we take a mindful, non-judgmental, look at our situation, we may find ourselves more relieved and less doubtful.

Remember that you can change anything by facing it and embracing it. Too often self-compassion slips by us and we get down on ourselves for the slightest infractions. We need to break with the past to reclaim our courage. Being forgiving can open the door to self-love which leads us to create possibilities.

Mindful Self-Compassion

Mindful self-compassion is the ability to be aware of our despair and yet to be gentle with ourselves in the way we deal with it. Every time we knock ourselves down, we lose self-esteem points. Yes, we all realize that everyone has problems and bad days, and we tell ourselves that we need to be there for others. We’re conditioned to forgive others before ourselves.

In fact, most of us bypass self-compassion by being stressed out about work, getting upset with our mates, and having no patience for our children. To find self-compassion we need to not be impressed by our emotions, look at things as they are, encourage change and let go of preconceived notions.

Turning Self-Bashing into Mindful Self-Compassion

In order to become truly self-forgiving it important to not get caught up in our emotions. They are part of us but not all of us. If we become too impressed by them, we lose perspective about the importance of the moment. The first step to self-compassion is “loving awareness;” which means acknowledging negative emotions, but still looking at yourself the way you look at the loveliest rose or the sweetest baby.

Like our emotions we can get caught up in our thoughts which can easily derail us. The second step to achieve self-compassion is to accept life on life’s terms. This means to embrace the idea that everything is a journey and not a destination. The key here to know that not all journeys lead to rewards, but rather they all lead to great lessons.

Fear is the antithesis of love. It is bred from the assumption that life owes us something if we do this or that. So the third step to self-compassion is to abandon binary, black and white, thinking and replace it with healthy risk taking along with realistic expectations. The fastest way to disappoint yourself is to be expecting something with absolute certainty. Remember adopting a colorful attitude about life is a lot less boring and will help you let go of things you can’t fix or control.

One of the most mindful things you can do for yourself is to be kind to yourself especially when you mess-up. All of us miss cues, forget things, fumble, or just make mistakes. We can choose to suffer when these things happen or we can learn from them and move on. Taking things out on ourselves and making ourselves feel worse for it will only leave us with shame and not the relief we need. If we feel bad for messing up, why would we want to make ourselves feel worse?

Unfortunately, we all do this even though we know at some intuitive level we really shouldn’t. It is almost automatic, but being self-compassionate can be learned.

It seems that our society has taught us that self-criticism is the pathway to doing better: We need to focus on what is wrong with the way we act and/or appear in order to strive for perfection.

But there is no such thing as being perfect! What is wrong with simply being regular or “good enough,” as noted in the article 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience in TIME magazine? We’ve learned from an early age that shaming leads to kindness and humility, but this is just not the case. According to Dr Neff, who has dedicated her practice to self-compassion, beating up on ourselves only leads to a chronic lack of confidence and an increase in displaced anger.

There are Mindfulness authors like Dr Chris Germer who believe in the healing power of self-compassion. Folks who can acknowledge that they are suffering in a loving way are more likely to take action to relieve that stress rather than make excuses for why they should stay in a suffering state. For example, people who are in intolerable living circumstances, abusive relationships, or self-imposed confinement and believe they deserve to stay there are not exercising self-compassion.

Vision

According to Marianne Williamson, we can choose to get out of our predicament or, better yet, create a vision to lead us to higher places.

People with true vision have learned that giving is getting. These folks are not self-serving, but think about how things will impact others. Compassion for others can deepen our capacity to be humble and self-loving.

When we are able to say “I value you/myself enough to know that I deserve better” we can begin the process of change.

References

Barker, TIME

Blog: World of Psychology Archives

Germer, The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion

Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind

Williamson, Our Deepest Fear

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