Self Compassion

Written by Allison Bratsch, LPC, ACS

I have wondered for SO long… why is it that we are so hard on ourselves? Why is it that we expect perfection? Why is it that we beat ourselves up inside when we make mistakes? Why are we so critical and unaccepting of ourselves? And why in the world do we say such horribly mean things to ourselves? Is it some evil force inside of us? Is there even something wrong with us that we do that? No. Actually, this is a common human experience. We are designed to do this because we are built with the innate desire to grow and become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Be GENTLE with yourself.

You are HUMAN. What does being human actually mean? It means that we screw up from time to time – we make mistakes. It means that sometimes we struggle, and that’s okay. You have PERMISSION to be human and to not be “perfect” – whatever that means. You also have PERMISSION to be yourself and not be “normal” – whatever that means.

I will also pose this question: is being self-critical or hard on ourselves ever a good thing? Well, CERTAINLY we must be able to really look at ourselves and provide ourselves with honest feedback. A little bit of kicking our own butts can go a long way toward self-improvement and achieving the things in life that we desire. We must push ourselves at least a little if we are going to achieve our goals and desired outcomes. We must also be willing to recognize when we have made a mistake, be honest with ourselves, and make a choice to learn and improve and grow from this common human experience. But guess what: this does not mean we beat ourselves up and dwell on how we screwed up or how we are flawed or inadequate. It means we become aware, and we take steps to improve. We pick ourselves up and give ourselves some love and keep going.

The negative, cruel, self-deprecating voices in our heads only keep us stuck where we do not want to be. They tell us we are not good enough and so often we stop trying. They tell us we can’t, so we choose not to. And if we listen to these voices long enough, we actually will start to believe these horrible things about ourselves, and ultimately these things will become true. We naturally will look to confirm the things in life that we truly believe. Why not believe and choose to focus on the positive aspects of ourselves and our lives, so that more of these things will manifest in our lives? We must do this if we are going to continue to evolve as humans. So be gentle with yourself, and do the best you can. Catch yourself being critical, and make the choice to show yourself some love and compassion.