For most of us, feeling compassion for others comes naturally. When we notice that a loved one or a friend is in pain, we naturally feel empathy and want to help ease their pain.
Perhaps we learn to be critical of ourselves. Maybe because we think we deserve that criticism (perhaps because we have received harsh criticism after making mistakes in the past) and/or that self-criticism is what allows us to remain attentive and in constant improvement and self-improvement. As if in order to grow, learn and be better, we need this attitude.
It is not so easy to be compassionate with ourselves to the same extent as we are with others.
We may judge ourselves harshly when we feel we have made a mistake or blame ourselves when something out of the ordinary occurs in our lives. However, if we were talking to a friend about the same situation, we would probably take a much more compassionate stance, even though we felt our friend had made a mistake.
And this is a very useful exercise we can do individually. As simple as putting our situation on someone else, that is, imagining that it is someone else going through what we are going through - in this space of imagination, our mind automatically allows us to gain distance from the problem and we are able to feel differently about it.
Notice the difference. Notice if different thoughts do not arise instead of those you had before in relation to this (hypothetical) person who is going through a hardship.
Self-compassion is about recognising that we are experiencing difficulties and suffering, and developing a friendlier attitude towards ourselves at such times.
Some people think that without self-criticism they will make more mistakes, which frightens them.
But self-compassion does not mean that one should resign oneself to the situation, not at all. Or slack off.
Of course, you may still have the desire to do things right in whatever role you play. But, the truth is that if you are able to look at yourself in a more compassionate way, it may be easier to act according to our values and improve, learning from your failures without the unnecessary burden of self-criticism.
Self-compassion then involves three steps:
1. Bring mindful awareness to your suffering: "This is a moment of suffering." Notice any habitual reactions, especially self-judgment.
2. Remind yourself that suffer connects you to other people: "All people feel difficulties, make mistakes or regret things. To feel this is to be human. All people have suffered at some time."
3. Bring kindness to yourself: For example, by saying, "I am here for you at this difficult time" (you can also choose your own words) or by trying to comfort yourself physically by doing something or giving yourself something that helps to reassure yourself.
Take this teaching from today into your life and give this practice a chance.
Self-criticism is a weight you don't need to carry.