Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Self-Compassion

Why is it that we are so quick to be hard on ourselves, to see everything we didn't do right, didn't accomplish; every way in which we aren't good enough?  Why do we fixate on our insecurities, comparing our worst (even if known only to us) to someone else's perceived best?  (And by the way, that someone is also comparing their weaknesses to my strengths, just as I can only see their good and my bad)

I was skimming some tips for raising happy kids.  Laugh with them (check), be positive (check). . . until I came to one of the 10 suggested tips:  Foster self-compassion.  Wow.  So simple, yet so cathartic.

 It's interesting that while the article is focusing on how to raise happy kids, this tip is aimed at the parents:   "Parental guilt is its own industry. . . ."  Said another way, guilt is its own industry.  I've been working on this for years now, inspired by a husband who has helped me understand how damaging the guilting is, the beating myself up for every way I don't measure up to a fictitious, impossible standard.

Sometimes I'm really good at it, and other times little thoughts creep in and whisper, "Oh come on.  You know you're not good enough.  You'll just mess up again. . . ."  And for a brief time, before I kick that stinkin' thinkin' to the curb, I believe it.

Here is the advice itself:
"Research suggests that self-compassion is a very important life skill, helping people stay resilient in the face of challenges. Self-compassion is made up of mindfulness, the ability to manage thoughts and emotions without being carried away or repressing them, common humanity, or empathy with the suffering of others, and self-kindness, a recognition of your own suffering and a commitment to solving the problem. Parents can use self-compassion when coping with difficulties in child-rearing. In doing so, they can set an example for their kids."

I really think that guilt and frustration over things are only productive if they inspire us to try again tomorrow, like Anne of Green Gables, who loved each fresh new day, a new slate to write upon.  If we let them bring us down, then we're just trapped in this cycle of believing we're not "good enough," as if there's a realistic standard of what is or isn't good enough.

What I like about this little paragraph on self-compassion is that we are not asked to deny or repress frustrations over unmet expectations, simply faking it 'till we make it, or pretending it's all ok (which only causes us to feel like a fraud on top of everything else).  Instead, it's just a way of trying to be kind to ourselves.  To step aside for a moment and look on with a third eye, mindfully managing our thoughts without falling into complete hopelessness (which usually means binging on chocolate and other vices, am I right?  For which we have even MORE to agonize over when tomorrow we realize how far off the diet we fell, on top of all the other ways we blew it).
I can look at my own woes and insecurities, failings, weaknesses, unmet expectations (especially the ones where I am the saboteur), recognize that life is hard, and then be nice to myself and realize that life is, well, REAL.

I really want to focus on helping my kids learn this beautiful skill of self-compassion, but I like that this article infers that if we as parents practice self-compassion, our kids may be generally happier.  

Well, in between their whining and complaining about housework, anyway.  : )

1 comment:

Kimberly Wilson said...

In a nutshell, as I said on fb, my insecurities irritate me, and my flaws frustrate me. But they make me more teachable, too, and when I am self-compassionate, it's easier to relax and even laugh at myself.