I believe that when we fail to practice compassion on ourselves, we have a harder time showing compassion to other people, especially around those issues we get so ticked at ourselves about. After all, if I’m a stupid lazy bitch for not being able to focus, so are they. If I’m a despicable and horrible person for scaring my loved ones, well, so are they.
And you know, no judgment on the behavior, whatever it is, but I just don’t think that’s helpful for anyone.
I know we can scare and shame ourselves into behavior we like better. It works. It worked for me, it works for you, it works. And I know that for some people it works for a long time. No shame! If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it. And life is hard, you gotta do what you gotta do.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not a better way.
And I think self-compassion is a better way.
I think that being in a lot of pain makes it really hard to reach out to people, makes it really hard to care for people, makes it really hard to understand people. Having been in pain can help with all those things, but being in pain right now just makes me wanna hiss and bite like a trapped cat.
So if I want to be a person who can reach out to people, who can help people, who can just generally be kind, be understanding, and work together with people, then I gotta manage my own pain. And that gets a lot harder if my only response to my pain, and my need, and my failure is to hurt myself more.
I think maybe more importantly, if I wanna be a person who can change, who can face my own faults and deal with my shit, I gotta be there for me when it starts to get rough.
Example: How about a time when I’m not as generous as I’d like to be. Maybe I know my other’d really like it if food was ready when she got home from work, but I’m reading TV Tropes and I don’t wanna stop, so I don’t get up and the food isn’t ready.
If my response to that is going to be: “You fucking bitch why are you so selfish, what the hell is your problem, can’t you care about other people for once.” Well, I’m probably not going to look to hard at why I didn’t start cooking an hour earlier. It’s not going to be ‘Well, I was feeling really tired, maybe I need to take a break at lunch’ or, ‘well, I got sucked into the trope-o-sphere, maybe I need to be setting a timer on the oven before I wiki-dive in the afternoons’ or, ‘you know she says she doesn’t care that much about it, so why is it so important to me?’
It’s going to be ‘Why do I always have to cook dinner!?’ ‘If she just remembered to take lunch to work she wouldn’t be so hungry!’ or ‘Well, maybe if someone helped me with the dishes!’ And, of course, ‘You selfish bitch, what the fuck is your problem? Why can’t you just get the hell off your fucking computer?’ Which isn’t really encouraging and certainly isn’t actionable criticism.
If I’m going to take action, if I’m going to practice being the person I wanna be, I gotta be able to look at myself with a clear eye, and I can’t do that when I’m attacking myself for being horrible!
Plus also, eventually the obvious response is, “Well ’cause I’m a selfish bitch, duh.” And then I’m just trapped, because no stupid selfish bitch can do anything about it, so why bother to try?
So that’s why I think that self compassion is important.