How the Golden Rule gets it wrong…
Most of us grew up learning the infamous 𝘨𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘯 𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘦: “Treat others how you want to be treated”. It’s a great concept, yet we never learned perhaps an even more important rule: how to treat ourselves with compassion.
Self-compassion is essentially the inverse of the golden rule. Instead of just focusing on how we treat others, we need to learn to offer ourselves compassion as well.
Self-compassion is is about accepting our experience (aka mindfulness) AND providing ourselves with kindness and compassion because of the very real struggles of being human.
And research shows that self-compassion :
– increases motivation & happiness 😁
– facilitate resilience 💪
– reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression 🧠
– improves body image
– boosts self-esteem 🗣
So many of us (especially women who are socially conditioned to be caregivers) are actually really great at treating others with compassion. We’re all about offering kindness, understanding, and encouragement to loved ones and those around us when they need it most. But how often do we offer ourselves that same type of compassion?
What would change if you treated yourself with as much compassion as you treat others with? 𝗪𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟?
Let’s do a thought experiment. Think about how you respond to a friend going through a difficult time.
Do you tell them to “suck it up”? Perhaps, tell them they aren’t “good enough”? Would you yell at a friend and say they are stupid for making a little mistake? I doubt it.
Yet so many of us treat ourselves this way. We are often our own worst critics. We wouldn’t dare say aloud the things we tell ourselves in our head.
Compassion literally translates ” to suffer with”. When we really feel compassion for someone (or for ourselves), our hearts go out to them and literally ache.
Since most people are pretty good at offering compassion for others, so let’s use that strength to work on building the skill of offering compassion for ourselves.
Here’s an exercise to try:
Imagine a friend came to you and told you they were struggling with enter whatever you are going through right now. What advice would you give them? What kind words would you want to deliver, heart to heart?
Now, can you offer that same message to yourself?
This is the practice of mindful self-compassion!
Mindful Self-compassion has 3 basic parts to it, think of it as a simple 3 ingredient recipe.
1. Self-kindness: Treating yourself with kindness and compassion
2. Common humanity : Understanding that it’s normal and part of the human experience to suffer at times
3. Mindfulness : Acknowledging and naming what you are experiencing without judgment
Let’s break these parts down.
In order to have compassion, either for yourself or for others, you have to first recognize and notice that someone is struggling (or in this case, yourself). 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴!
Rather than ignoring your own difficult feelings, you must acknowledge that suffering. Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment, without judgment. See if you can name the experience or the strongest emotion that is coming up to yourself.
Then, open your heart to the suffering in order to feel warmth and understanding. Compassion literally translates as “to suffer with”.
We can offer understanding and kindness when we mess up, instead of harsh criticism. 𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳-𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 is the meaty part or the content of the self-compassion work, where we actively treat ourselves with kindness rather than pity or judgment.
“This is really difficult right now. What do I need in this moment to offer myself kindness?”
The third element of mindful self-compassion is 𝘾𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙤𝙣 𝙃𝙪𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮: the understanding that making mistakes and suffering is a normal part of being human.
Instead of thinking “Oh poor me, why do bad things always happen to me?”. You recognize that “Suffering is a part of being human. It’s okay to make mistakes as I’m human”.
Self-compassion is about being kind towards oneself, especially when confronted with difficult experiences and personal shortcomings. It’s about embracing the fullness of your human experience, not about striving for perfection.
My personal self-compassion mantra:
“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡.”
Things to keep in mind when practicing Self-Compassion:
- Self-compassion is the ability to be kind to yourself when you are going through a difficult time. It’s not self-pitying or self-indulgent—it’s about being kind to yourself, especially when you fail or make a mistake!
- Self-compassion is not the same as having high self-esteem. Having high self-esteem means feeling good about your accomplishments. Self-Compassion doesn’t mean feeling good all of the time because that would be impossible!
- In fact, self-compassion is most important when we make a mistake, feel inadequate or are suffering in some way. This is when we need to offer ourselves kindness and compassion.
Learn more about practicing self-compassion from Kristin Neff.
If you need support learning how to be more self-compassionate, schedule a consultation to work with Carrie here.