Choose The Self First
In self-compassion, the most important rule is that you tend to the self first. It is never too early for self-compassion. In fact, it should be your first response. Too much time is wasted on whether or not you are deserving of this compassion. What if I am at fault? What if I have committed the same kind of wrongdoing to someone else? What if I always struggle with the same thing, and struggling is my destiny? All people who suffer deserve compassion, so if you are suffering, then you are deserving of compassion.
How many times have you found yourself struggling with a thought, a feeling, or a bodily sensation, and tried to ignore it for the purpose of serving someone else, or of continuing to work? Many see this as an act of humility, an act of valiance. However, short-term sacrifice leads to long-term burn out, and resentment. The body needs to be taken care of, especially if you want to help others.
Four Obstacles To Immediate Self-Compassion
The logic is sound, but let’s take a look at what you are up against. First, a history of ignoring your feelings to accomplish a task. In other words, your default is to ignore your suffering when it arises. Second, social influence that says sacrifice is good (e.g., every movie, song, television show ever). Third, given social influence, others will commend sacrifice, which makes it rewarding. Fourth, people tend to see taking care of themselves as a form of entitlement. These are our four challenges to getting self-compassion, when it counts.
Quick Steps to Solving The Four Challenges
Let’s look at how to overcome these four challenges.
To manage the first challenge, when suffering arises, we have to acknowledge the impulse to sacrifice, and honor it by witnessing it rather than acting upon it. Now, there is room for self-compassion.
To deal with the second challenge, we notice that social understanding has been developed from years of passed down stories to give people hope of receiving love and care. We use this ethos to be kind to ourselves, and then see if there are others we might be able to help.
In mitigating the third challenge, we acknowledge the importance of reward, and the disappointment that follows not receiving it, then we engage in self-compassion and reward ourselves. The best kind of reward is that which you dole out for yourself because you can control it, and because it reminds you of your innate ability to honor and love yourself.
In the fourth and final challenge, we acknowledge that self-compassion can be thought of by others as entitlement or selfishness. Here, your understanding and purpose must be strong enough to weather this storm. Acknowledge this view, and its faults. Remember a time in which your way of thinking needed to evolve, and acknowledge that it still might in some ways. Have compassion for this view and its supporters, then bring self-compassion to your experience because you know it is vital to living a good life, and inspiring others to live good lives too.
If you have come this far, you have self-compassion. Congratulations, you have done it! What? It is no small task to overcome years of behavioral responses and social influence. Remember, we move toward that which we reward. So, keep your practice going, and don’t forget to reward yourself.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 174. In The Books.