There is a hot topic lately and it is self-compassion, self-care, self-love, all one in the same. These topics are not about building your self-esteem, they are about accepting yourself for who you are and realising life does not have to be perfect for it to be unconditionally enjoyed. Here is how I see a lack of self-compassion play out, when we do not care highly for ourselves we do not take care of ourselves, this is why I believe that being self-critical is counterproductive for trying to improve your behaviour and mindset.
When you are constantly critiquing your body, why would you be motivated to take care of it? When you are constantly feeling guilty for what you eat, why would you have the drive to eat better, you probably feel like you do not deserve to be taken care of. We have built this notion in society that we need to all be striving to be above average in all areas of life. Yet if we achieved that, we have redefined the new average then where does that leave us? Do we even want that constant high striving to be our norm? Let me ask you this, since covid has hit, how many of you have sat back and really reflected on what you were doing with your life and truly asked yourself, do I actually want to go back to that? What was I even chasing? Was it really worth it? So many of us were constantly busy, consistently exhausted, and we did it all because we felt we had these standards we had to meet. It is valued to always be striving and aiming for something extraordinary, if you weren’t busy, you weren’t valuable, is it worth all of the energy?
Author, Kristin Neff questions in her book, Self-Compassion, what is wrong with ordinary, why are we all trying to be so extraordinary, why are we all so unaccepting of our flaws? The exercise she gives is this, list 5 things you are above average in that is valued by society, list 5 things you are average in and list 5 things you are below average in. Can you find a balance with all of these?
When did living a simple life become so unacceptable? How many of us are scrolling through our social medias looking at the gloriousness we see as other people’s lives wishing we were doing something great, then you are looking at someone else’s social media seeing them doing something completely different and wishing you were living that life also. We are pulled in so many different directions and it is depleting our abilities to live in the now and be happy with what we have and who we are.
What you are working to achieve? Is it what you want or is it what you think you should be doing? Is it something you saw someone else doing and you blindly started to follow in hopes it would make you happy too? Can you learn to be comfortable with where you are right now? Can you see how that would benefit you?
If you find acceptance in where you are right now, you feel compassion for yourself that you are doing what you can, that what is happening right now is meant to be happening for the simple reason that, it is what is happening. We tend to fight reality thinking we know better and it should be playing out differently, why do we do this? The more you push against what is happening in your present moment, the more unhappy you make yourself. Same goes for being self-critical, people that are highly self-critical are linked to feeling more depressed and anxious.
If you are constantly judging yourself for everything you are doing, how is that helping you? Is it making you perform better or is it putting you in high levels of stress which is then hindering your judgment and decision making? It can be easy to constantly look at what is not working, what you are not doing right but you can find more peace within you when you do the opposite. So, what are you doing well right now? What are you just average in and you can let yourself be okay with that? Do you really want what you are chasing for or is it time for some reassessment?
I know that sometimes this sort of perspective can feel like it is saying, why are you bothering trying to do anything, why not just give up and strive for nothing? I know that because when I have read different authors on these topics that is how I have felt them come across. This notion is not about giving up. It is about reflecting and realising what is worth your energy and what is not. It is about stopping the comparison with everyone’s else’s life and choosing one that suits you. We do not have to be everything, we do not have to be kicking goals in every area of our life. If you find yourself stressing out a lot because you are not where you want to be. Stop for a moment, speak kinder to yourself, realise that being self-critical is counterproductive and reassess the direction you are heading. What is one thing you can do this week to bring more self-compassion into your life?