Do you find it easier to forgive others than yourself?
Are you able to accept others’ mistakes but not your own?
Practicing self-compassion can actually be very difficult. This is especially true if you learned as a child to care more about others, or if you have a hard time forgiving yourself.
People are not born with a loathing for themselves. They learn it from their environment and life experiences. Perhaps this is you.
Were you told as a child that you were somehow less-than-worthy? Was this reinforced by your experiences with other people?
Sadly, oftentimes it is parents who plant the seeds of these beliefs. The damaged caused only amplifies over the years into adulthood. However, there is a way to mend the situation.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is a set of practices aimed at being empathetic and affirming to you. In layman’s terms, you could say it’s, “giving yourself a break.” Yet, at the same time, it is much more than that.
It encompasses the following attributes:
- Acceptance: Being OK with who you are—warts and all.
- Forgiveness: Showing compassion and mercy to yourself for past actions or behavior.
- Kindness: Treating yourself with love and empathy.
- Understanding: Having an awareness of how you think and act—and why.
As a whole, self-compassion sounds like a pretty good thing. It’s very similar to showing compassion to someone else. Yet, why is it often so hard for us to practice self-compassion, even when we have no problem extending it to others?
Consider some of these possibilities:
Having Impossibly High Standards for Yourself
One reason why it is hard to have self-compassion is that you may have really high standards for yourself. Now, on the one hand, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone should strive to be their personal best. Yet, we all experience setbacks, too. There are times when we even fail.
You may be someone for whom a failure becomes a personal crisis. For you, failure is not an option. Yet, this kind of thinking isn’t realistic. Everyone has weak moments from time-to-time. The important point of failure is: what can you learn from those experiences to move forward?
Lacking the Ability to Accept Yourself
Another reason why self-compassion can be hard is that you may find it hard to accept yourself. There may be some quality or qualities about yourself that you just don’t like. However, there can always be room for improvement.
For example, maybe you are overweight and should lose a few pounds to maintain your health. That is not a bad perspective to have, watching out for your own well-being. Yet, when the pendulum swings toward a negative perspective of your own body, it can have devastating results.
What may be the source of this lack of self-acceptance? The answer often is self-loathing. When you have this type of outlook, it is very difficult to practice self-acceptance.
Finding It Difficult to Treat Yourself with Kindness
Along with high standards and lack of acceptance comes a difficulty to treat yourself kindly. Everyone deserves kindness and to be treated with kindness. Yet, if you have a lot of self-loathing for yourself, then it will also be hard to be kind to yourself.
Unfortunately, this type of mindset can even stretch into the belief that you do not deserve the same love and kindness as others. But that belief can be hard to understand for others who care about you and want to show you kindness.
Using Therapy to Learn Self-Compassion
Meeting with a professional therapist can help you learn how to develop and practice self-compassion. Perhaps this would be the first time you could talk to someone in confidence who doesn’t reinforce those negative perceptions. Instead, a therapist will be affirming and validating. For people who lack self-compassion, this can be an utterly transforming experience.
There are many reasons why you may find it hard to have self-compassion. However, the root cause is often based on early childhood experiences. By seeking a therapist, you can begin to break that cycle of self-loathing. Instead, you can learn that it is okay to treat yourself with the compassion you truly deserve.
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