Why is it so hard to show ourselves compassion?
Learning to accept who we are (faults and all!) is the first step towards moving to self-compassion, but how do we do that?
When I sit with my clients and they come to the realization that they don’t accept or like who they are, it can feel completely overwhelming to them. Many have said, “Okay, Lianne, that sounds great. So I just need to learn to “accept who I am” after all of these years? How in the world is this possible?” Their response is extremely valid. I am the first person in the room to admit that I do not completely know how exactly this individual I am sitting with will move towards self-acceptance and therefore self-compassion, but I do know it is possible!
You see, there is not a “5-Step” program or a set of “rules” or “instructions” for moving from not liking yourself (self-contempt) to self-compassion, but there is hope, guidance, and wisdom to help us navigate this overwhelming task before us.
Here are some ways I encourage my clients (and myself) to begin this process…
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Being curious with ourselves is actually a very vulnerable step. When we are curious about our motives, feelings, and beliefs (core beliefs about ourselves, others, and situations) it will lead to learning about who we are.
Being curious with ourselves looks like asking questions….even when they are hard questions.
Why did I just respond that way to my ______(spouse, friend, child, co-worker, etc.)?
That interaction I had with ______ isn’t sitting with me very well. What is bothering me about it?
I feel really “off” right now and I have no idea why. What has been going on in my day/week that might be causing me to feel this way?
Gosh, I am so angry at ______ and I am not even sure why. What am I feeling? Am I stuck on something specific? Is my anger masking a different emotion?
Being curious with ourselves forces us to slow down and learn about why we act and think the way we do. From here we must choose to keep asking the curious questions so that we may uncover our true selves and wrestle with what is revealed.
Be a student
As you learn to be curious with yourself I would encourage you to journal as you ask the curious questions. If journaling isn’t your thing, try writing down your thoughts in bullet-point form. The goal here is to get your thoughts out of your head, which helps with processing and learning.
Expect to be uncomfortable. Learning to accept who we were and show ourselves compassion can mean acknowledging hard things to ourselves about ourselves. Do your best to sit in the discomfort and not fear it.
Be patient with yourself
As you begin this process remember – it took you many years to learn to not like yourself and it is going to take time to learn how to like who you are and live from this place. Remember, this is a process you are engaging in and not a quick-fix. It will take time.
A quick way to think about this process is:
Being curious → leads to → self-awareness → which leads to learning about yourself → which allows opportunities for growth and change → and ultimately can lead to liking and loving who you are!