For anyone else who feels like they merely tolerate themselves; you cannot love other people fully if you merely tolerate yourself, and we must remember that the golden rule goes in both directions - yes do unto others only as you would have them do unto you, but also you have to do unto yourself as you would do unto others. You need to move your relationship with yourself to one of a loving friend.
If you feel like you are in a place of only tolerating yourself then that isn't the only path, you can choose a path of light and of love and of forgiveness towards yourself. You have to do the work and you have to face the pain but it can be done - the mind is trainable and the heart is openable"
Tim Ferriss (paraphrased from an interview on the 10% happier podcast with Dan Harris)
In my various different roles I try to stay attuned to commonalities or trends, topics that I keep seeing referenced or hearing as a challenge. The latest of these is that of self-compassion, the idea of being kind and loving towards yourself. Now I can virtually guarantee that a large percentage of readers have scanned that sentence, and the quote above, and have switched off. This is the typical reaction to any mention of self-compassion - it feels uncomfortable so we don't want to know. The reality is that it is likely the area where we all need the most work. My observations of this topic over recent weeks have really highlighted how many of us struggle with this, particularly those in caring or competitive professions. We focus on caring for others as opposed to caring for ourselves or we focus on 'achieving' as a way of distancing ourselves from looking inwards.
I urge you to take a second, read back through that quote above and assess where you are at. How kind are you to you? When things go wrong do you put an arm round yourself? Or call yourself an idiot and resolve to work harder? Try this simple exercise - name a challenge or difficulty that you are currently experiencing, write it down. Write down your self talk about this issue. Now consider that a loved friend or family member has sat with you and just described the challenge you are experiencing. Write down what advice or support you would give to them. Now take a step back and review. How different is your self talk on this issue to the advice you'd give a loved one? This is what I term the 'compassion gap', the difference between the kindness you default to exhibiting externally compared to your internal default.
If that gap exists for you then this is your opportunity to make a change. In future posts I am going to delve into techniques for bridging the compassion gap, because, as with most of the posts on here, I am scratching my own itch. I heard the Tim Ferriss quote of 'I saw myself purely as an instrument of competition' and that resonated. I have resolved to go on my own journey with this and I hope you will join me. The amazing thing is the company we will have with us, the more I've started to ask about this challenge the more people I've found opening up about their struggle with this. From clinically qualified carers at the height of their profession to young athletes making their first steps into professional sport. This is a challenge, but it is a challenge worth facing.
The first step of this journey is self-awareness. Reflect on this post and, when you find yourself slipping into harsh self-talk, pause. From here we can then start our work. To be continued.