Being Self-Compassionate is for Wimps! Suck it Up?

Accountability Kindness Well-being


Key Point: My last blog about falling out of the Character Triangle sparked more thought. It helped me better understand how much courage it takes to be self-compassionate. It requires us to release control, acknowledge our imperfections, admit that we make mistakes and always will. Rather than struggling with the unreachable goal of perfection, self-compassion requires us to let go of our resistance and go with it instead. Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel, wrote 5 Easy Ways to Be Nicer to Yourself on, and did a wonderful job outlining myths and realities about self-compassion. I would like to share her views with you:

The Myths of Self-Compassion

Myth 1: Self-compassion is selfish.

Self-compassion can be seen as selfish, that taking care of yourself means you are not doing what you are supposed to be doing: Taking care of someone else.

Reality: Caring for others requires loving-kindness and authenticity. If you haven’t created those traits for yourself, how can you give them to others?

Myth 2: Self-compassion is indulgent.

You might be concerned that being nice to yourself just lets you off the hook and encourages you to be self-indulgent.

Reality: Self-compassion is about your health and well being while self-indulgence is about getting anything you want when you want it without thoughts of well being. Self-compassion is about noticing and being with your pain. Self-indulgence is about numbing and denying your pain.

Myth 3: Self-criticism is what motivates you.

Self-criticism does provide basic motivation, like keeping us safe.

Reality: We have many ways to keep ourselves safe, so we really don’t need a critical voice in our heads to do so. Similarly, we don’t need to be internally nagged and disparaged to accomplish things. Being self-compassionate gives you the confidence you need to motivate yourself.

Myth 4: Self-compassion is wimpy.

In our individualistic society, you are supposed to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and tough things out. Be kind to yourself? Quit being such a wimp!

Reality: Actually, self-compassion serves to heal and strengthen you. It is, in fact, the strongest and most resilient among us who have the courage to be kind to ourselves.

Character Moves:

Continue to learn from Emel, and embrace the following:

  1. Acknowledge your suffering and pain. You have likely been conditioned to ignore, deny, or suppress your pain but this will only result in more suffering down the road. Practice noticing your pain, tender spots and gently give yourself validation that they are real and deserve compassion.
  2. Treat yourself as you would a friend. Think for a moment of how you talk to yourself when you are going through a rough time. Now think about if your friend was experiencing the same thing. How would you talk to her? Him? Talk to and treat yourself as you would your friend. Speak gently to yourself. Be understanding.
  3. Remember the idea of common humanity. Even if you are going through a tough time of your own doing, does that mean you shouldn’t be kind to yourself? No. It means you’re human.
  4. Practice mindfulness without judgment. Mindfulness is about paying attention to your current experience without judgment. Rather than running away from or suppressing pain, mindfulness allows us just to be with these feelings as they are.

Be self-compassionate… No wimps in the Triangle,