Living With More Self-Compassion By Differentiating Wishes From Demands

The Origin Of Demands

It is actually a pretty common self-compassion theme to find people upset about their wishes not being fulfilled.  They wish for things, and feel disappointed in their life prior to knowing about self-compassion, and then they internally do the dance of joy, when they hear that self-compassion involves active wishing.  Ironically, self-compassion includes the wish for well-being, or freedom from suffering, or the wish for self-acceptance because it wants people to have the kind and compassionate intention of bringing well-being into their life without trying to control or demand it. 

This whole mix up is simply a social construction issue.  You see, many years ago, someone wrote a story about a genie and a magic lamp.  When you rubbed on the lamp, the genie would arise from within on a cloud of smoke, and promise to grant three wishes.  But, “wish” in this sense is used incorrectly.  Really, people were able to make three demands of the genie.  In other words, they were able to ask for three things that he was obligated to fulfill.

Confusing Wishes And Demands

Confusing wishes with demands causes us so much inner turmoil.  We live a challenging life with lots of ups and downs.  The harder certain areas of our life become, the more we wish it would become predictable.  Our fantasy is that if it were predictable, then we could prepare for it, and with this preparation we could guarantee success.  Unfortunately, life does not work like that, and the harder we try to control the parts of our lives that are causing us suffering, the more suffering we experience, and the more helpless we feel. 

We hate to feel helpless, so instead we find something that we can potentially control, and we put a lot of pressure on this thing.  It could be a purchase, or our spouse, or a sports team, or a friend, or a hobby.  Because our fantasy assures us that these are sure things, when they disappoint us, we become unglued.  Objectively speaking, we can see how these wishes are really demands.  So, we love demands because they make the world seem predictable, and that make us feel safe.

Self-Compassion Helps You Benefit From The Distinction Between Wishes And Demands

Self-Compassion acknowledges that demands bring us suffering because the world is unpredictable, but also because they are taking the place of the compassion and kindness that we really need for the original thing that made us feel so down, and helpless.  In the place of demands, self-compassion allows us the opportunity to look at the original source of our suffering with scientific (objective) and less burdensome eyes.  It gives us the opportunity to rub salve on these wounds through compassion.  Finally, it allows us to wish for kindness, so that we know that we can survive tough times, and still be around for rejuvenating ones. 

So, self-compassion wishes are not demands, they are more like intentions for the self, intentions that you lead with in your interactions with others and yourself.  They are a way of preventing yourself from getting caught up in the cycle of suffering, and believing that you deserve to suffer now and forever.  I love the example of the child because we can almost all relate.  Imagine your child has skinned their knee.  We find out how it happened, almost always reassure them that it was an accident.  We give them love, and then we tell them to try to avoid any future harm.  We wish that they do not find future harm.  We do not demand it because they would be so ashamed, when harm inevitable happens (because they are human).  This formula is no less effective on adults, and if you follow it, like the young child, your days will be better and your suffering will be just another opportunity for love and acceptance.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 227.  In The Books.