Is Your Compassion Only for Others?
Compassion for others is a wonderful thing but does your compassion extend to how you treat yourself too? Are your expectations of yourself kind, reasonable and achievable or is there a voice in your head constantly telling you that your performance, skills, relationships or behaviour are never good enough? That you really should do better! ☹ One of the commandments for positive self care is ‘thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy, but be thy best friend’. Are you your own best friend? Do you treat yourself as you would treat other people or is there one set of rules for them and a different set for you? Compassion, kindness and self-care are valuable tools in managing stress and anxiety, building resilience and developing your confidence and self-esteem. You’ll find it very hard to develop those things if you’re not your own best pal.
I had a birthday card from a fab friend recently and these words were on the back of it:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, totally worn out and screaming….wooo hooooo, what a ride! I wanna go round again!”
Balance is Key
I think it’s a fabulous sentiment and it makes me smile every time I think of it, although as with all things, balance is important otherwise the journey might not last as long as it could. Chocolate in one hand and wine in the other also gives balance though of course! 😊 Factoring great self care and compassion into your life can feel self-indulgent, especially if you have family and friends to think about and especially if they have things that they’re struggling with. It can be easy to think ‘but xxxx has so much to worry about right now, I need to focus on what they need’, but if you’re not well, you’ll be less effective at taking care of that other person. So while it is important to look after the other people in your life, that’s also good for your self-esteem, a balance of care and compassion for you and for the other people you care about will give you a great sense of self. It’ll help you to build your confidence and self-esteem, deal with stress and anxiety effectively, bounce back from difficult situations more quickly and communicate assertively. That’s a kick ass combination of self!
Value Your Contributions
If most of your compassion is directed towards others and you’re not treating yourself well, why should other people treat you well? We learn by example much of the time and so if you’re always the last one in the office or you always do all of the chores at home for instance, people will expect that from you. It will become normal, for you and them. By being compassionate to yourself, you can demonstrate that you do value the contributions you make in different settings and once you value those contributions, other people will too. If you don’t value what you do, neither will other people unfortunately ☹ Sometimes, if we’re feeling low or our confidence has been knocked, it can feel more comfortable to fade into the background, to let other people take the reins and lead things for a while. We’ve probably all had times like that. But the trick is not to stay in the background for too long. Otherwise people might just hand you their coat on the way into the party and not engage with you as one of the hosts. If you feel like you want to be in the background of things, people will quite happily go along with that and treat you accordingly. Not good.
Compassion For You!
So, if you’ve shown more compassion to others than yourself recently, have a think about how that imbalance can be addressed. It doesn’t have to mean posh frocks and dinner jackets for a night at the theatre, although that would be fabulous if you can make that happen! It might mean a ten-minute break, looking up at the sky and thinking about some wonderful times and people that made you smile. Bringing happy memories to the forefront of your mind so you remember to talk about them with the people you love and care about. Those memories are part of who you are so it’s good to bring those thoughts back into your consciousness. The darker, sad memories can surface much more readily it seems, it can take much more conscious effort to remember the good times but it can definitely lift your mood if you make that effort, especially if you share those memories with other people.
Compassion and self-care can be about treats, time for reflection and memories but they can be about small behavioural changes too. I used to work with a lady who had young twin sons. When she went to the supermarket for a big shop, she would visit the coffee shop first and sit for a while with a cuppa, to reflect and catch up with herself. Now that, I thought is a great idea! It’s not always about the grand gestures that happen occasionally. Compassion and self-care can be built into your daily routines so that they become normal. What starts out with a “you’re doing what?!” response can turn into “see you later, have a nice time!” response fairly quickly if you stick to your compassionate guns. Good behaviours can become embedded, just as bad ones can so have a think today about the things that you’d like to do, the small tweaks that you can factor into your day that will bring compassion and self-care into your world. That way, when you skid in sideways for the final time you can say “I’ve been kind. To myself and lots of other people and it’s been one hell of a journey!”. That thought should definitely make you smile! 😊
Take good care please, be compassionate to yourself and others, and have a great day.
Best wishes, Karen