How does our sense of self-compassion motivate us differently than our self-judgment?
Most of us are used to judging or punishing ourselves into action. This might sound like:
“I’m so disgusting, I need to workout extra hard today.”
“I’m such a loser, I have to figure out how to make more money.”
“I’m so inadequate, I need to find a partner.”
“I’m a mess, I have to get this right.”
Whatever it is, we think mean things about ourselves in order to “motivate” us to do what we think we need to do in order to feel better about ourselves. “If I stop beating myself up, if I accept myself the way I am, I’ll get complacent and lazy, and never change.”
We think we need to beat ourselves up in order to take helpful actions. We might be in a rush to get “over there” because we think that’s when we’ll feel better about ourselves. Beating ourselves up may have gotten us results in the past, but at what cost to the relationship with ourselves?
When we have a self-judging narrative, everything we do can feel punishing:
- Instead of seeing a healthy plate of food that will nourish our body, we see a restrictive, limited diet
- Instead of doing a workout and celebrating what our body can do, we see it as a way to burn calories and whip ourselves into shape–sometimes even as a penalty for “not eating right”
- Instead of staying happy in a new relationship, we find ways to prove that we’re not worthy of happiness
- Instead of becoming aware of how we talk to ourselves, we beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up!
Kindness, love, and respect for ourselves doesn’t start when we hit a certain goal of ours.
In fact, when we do hit that goal without doing the work of self-compassion and acceptance, the reward will likely be temporary and we might still not like ourselves the way we thought we would when we finally get “over there” by hitting that goal. It’s because achieving goals doesn’t create our feelings. Our thoughts create our feelings.
Kindness, love, and respect for ourselves can start right now, exactly as we are.
Decide that that’s possible.
When we have compassion and acceptance for ourselves exactly as we are at this time, we can start making the changes we want to see in our lives from a place of care, love, and patience. It’s about our relationship with ourselves. So that in the long-run, we are where we want to be with ourselves and in our lives, loving and accepting ourselves along the way. No matter what.
Your turn: Are you open to feeling accepting of yourself as you are? If not, what’s getting in the way? What are some of the self-judging thoughts you’re aware of? What are some self-compassionate thoughts you can have about yourself instead? What would happen today if you found some self-compassion for yourself in a situation where you usually beat yourself up?
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