- How kind are you to yourself?
- If you judged others like you judge yourself, would you have any friends?
- When times are hard, do you show yourself the same tenderness you’d show another?
If we really loved others as we loved ourselves, how would that look?
A quick self-assessment can give you a rough estimate of how compassionate you are to yourself.
What I discovered is that while I can be gentle with myself when times are hard, I’m also very judgmental of my faults when I fail. And while I’m never to be satisfied with my sinful nature, I’m also not to condemn myself for it since I am in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Accepting God’s grace for ourselves just like we preach it to others is one of the ways God transforms us into who he wants us to be.
Another way to increase our self-compassion is to acknowledge to ourselves the suffering we’ve been through. When we deny our own circumstances, we shut off opportunities for healing (and we also won’t be as compassionate on others in similar situations).
Armstrong says that while we may feel embarrassed by the triviality of our own suffering compared to suffering we see in the world, it is still real to us. Don’t discount it.
“Make a deliberate effort to inhabit those moments fully and send a message of encouragement and sympathy to your former self. The object of this exercise is not to leave you wallowing in self-pity. The vivid memory of painful times past is a reservoir on which you can draw when you try to live according to the Golden Rule.”
She suggests you “draw on the warmth of friendship that you know exists potentially in your mind and direct it to yourself.”
Ironically, the more we treat ourselves like we would treat others, the less focused we become on ourselves, transcending our self-obsession that causes us (and others) unnecessary pain.
Practice on yourself. Be compassionate to you; it will help you be more compassionate to others.
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How can you show yourself compassion this week? How would that end up benefiting others as well? Please share.
The Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life (Karen Armstrong):
- Learn about compassion
- Look at your own world
- Compassion for yourself
- How little we know
- How should we speak to one another?
- Concern for everybody
- Love your enemies
- Memorizing Isaiah 55:7
- Discrimination—An inside view