People often feel trapped by their situations and the way in which they remain focused on past hurtful experiences. This stops them from living in the present and moving forward. Focusing on emotional wounds and re-living past hurtful events keeps them “stuck” in a painful state of mind. This affects their health, well-being, self-esteem, relationships, jobs, and decision-making ability. People in this frame of mind have limited coping ability. They may be confused about why they encounter very similar painful situations over and over again.
Was there a time when you were too harsh or judgmental with yourself? All human beings occasionally have unpleasant feelings--disappointment, grief, anger, deep frustration, shame, etc. Often, we feel that we shouldn’t have those feelings. But, actually, supporting ourselves while having these unpleasant feelings and comforting ourselves with words of compassion, can help us move more quickly from the stage of despair and hopelessness to the point of acceptance and love.
Studies show that we need more self-compassion in order to be kinder to other people. And it takes a little bit of courage to open up and learn to accept ourselves as we are. If we do, it actually helps us give more to those we love in deeper, fulfilling ways.
Many causes of anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and low-self-esteem are deeply connected to shame and perfectionism. People who have had traumatic experiences or who may not have been supported in proper ways during their childhood may develop a belief of being “not worthy”. This sense of “not being good enough” doesn’t leave them regardless of how hard they try. So they may give up on themselves or they become too judgmental and harsh on themselves and others, adopting unrealistic expectations for themselves and others.
They easily become frustrated when they fail, and then failure becomes more likely in this situation. They slam themselves hard for every mistake they make and lose motivation to try again. They develop performance anxiety, losing confidence in their ability to make the right choices, and become more likely to give up on many tasks and goals they would overwise achieve successfully. They may become angry, frustrated, ashamed, and hopeless.
Our culture has some blocks to self-compassion that stem from our beliefs. One such belief is that practicing self-compassion may undermine our motivation and diminish our ability to work harder. In fact, research has shown that the situation is exactly the opposite. With self-compassion, we are more likely to support and accept ourselves in face of failure and accept difficult situations as part of the valuable human experience. People, who practice self-compassion, are able to pick themselves up after painful experiences and continue to move forward. It is not the end of the world to fail. It is just a Human Experience. We are not perfect and nobody has a perfect life. Believing in ourselves makes it easy for us to accept the situation and ourselves as we are, and to try again. We will be able to embrace possible failure as a valuable human experience.
The foundation of self-compassion is mindfulness, the ability to be present to what is happening as it is happening. We have to have the courage to stay present when we feel overwhelmed with undesirable emotions, without fighting or denying them. Instead you can acknowledge them and recognize how hard it is. Then you will be able to explore your inner resources to provide help, and support yourself rather that degrading yourself with hopelessness and frustration.
With self-compassion, during stressful events, you can accept the situation and say to yourself, “It is hard for me now. I am struggling, but it is not the end of the word. How I can support myself in this situation? What do I need the most at this moment?” Try to make that gift to yourself. Most of us have a lot of experience knowing what to say when we need to encourage others when they are struggling. We also need to give permission to ourselves to treat ourselves in the same kind way as we would treat a good friend. These are learnable skills, they just take practice.
As a therapist, I focus on helping people to become more mindful of the internal resources they have. I seek to provide tools to unpack inner potential, overcome obstacles and take action to further personal growth, better health, better performance, respect, and lasting love.
I work with individuals, couples, and organizations who want to develop new capacities to rise above negative habits, overcome traumatic experiences and improve their performance in all aspects of their lives.