How to be compassionate to ourselves
Starting with observing my inner dialogue, I need to learn more about me, more about how I talk to myself, what beliefs or ideas guide me and make me talk in a certain way. I need to become familiar with my inner critic. But the key to change is to do so from a place of detached and curious observation. This will allow me to understand and unravel the mental yarn that connects all aspects of the self.
Once I become more aware, that is when I can start shifting my behaviour and attitude toward myself. If I find that I don’t like how I treat this person who is me, if I find that the way I talk to her is not ok, and I only make her feel small and not enough, then I have to adjust and change.
It’s possible that I am judgmental of myself in my effort to try to force me to feel better, to become stronger and to learn to fight, to evolve. But perhaps I go about it the wrong way, by trying to kick me to the ground in hope that I will find the strength to fight back. But what if there is another way? What would happen if I was to show understanding, compassion, care and acknowledgement?
Then I may gain self-respect. My vulnerable self may trust me and listen to my guidance. And together we become one whole person who is unafraid to face her fears and can walk this earth with passion and a smile on her face.
If I was to identify the individual steps in this process, it would look something like this:
1. Consider I may wish to change something about myself.
2. Observe my inner world without judgment, be as neutral as possible
3. Try to understand what beliefs affect my behaviours and reactions?
4. Enquire how I feel about all this?
5. Measure what the cost and what the benefit would be of staying as I am?
6. Consider what I like and what I don’t, about myself.
7. Look at the parts that can stay the same and accept them. Remember I am not changing myself. Only my attitude toward myself.
8. Look at the aspects of myself that cause pain and try to reframe how I react toward them. This is the hard part. Where I have to shift my way of being. The part where I need to understand why I developed these ideas in the first place. What was the need that was being unmet and what I needed to do to change this. Acknowledge the circumstances, the vulnerability, the usefulness of the behaviour or belief, and the need that sparked it.
9. Then examine if the circumstances have changed and how this behaviour is not serving me anymore. If that is the case, then it is time to update the parameters. Decide to change.
10. Start by setting a new goal. Acknowledge the need that set me on this path. Usually it is something along the line of “I want to be happier, I want to feel ok with who I am”. But whatever my motivation is, its helpful to notice it and write it down.
11. Notice the words I use for myself. Change them to something kinder and keep practicing this. And while I practice, I observe how I actually feel and what objections come up in my mind and body. Which beliefs and ideas fight the change? Which emotion gets in the way? Is it fear, guilt, shame?
12. If yes, then I can create a trial for myself. I am the judge, jury and the accused. What is the appropriate penance? What would I need to do or be, to be deemed good enough in my own eyes? Think on this and find the answers that my emotional and rational side offer.
13. Use compassion to learn. Use compassion to acknowledge the fear and the resistance. Give myself time to feel and to shift. Accept that this change is a choice I am making and it will take time and practice. Accept that I will want to give up and remember particularly on those days to be kind to myself.