It is said that we are our own harshest critics and we often compare ourselves to others less than favourably.
I have found myself making comparisons with others to be a strong adversary in my self-employed vocation to help people along the path of life who are suffering in so many ways. I can relate to so much of their suffering – recognition of common humanity.
I find myself at this very moment in time, smiling inwardly as I begin to write this blog.
Before reaching this point of beginning to write, a lot of things have stood in my way. Family and health issues took priority over all else for a while in my daily attention since I received the invitation to write this blog post some time ago. Indeed so overwhelming was the feeling of ‘shame and fear’ at the delay, I found myself writing an email to Kristy last week to ask for a little more time: self compassion practice enabled me to reach out, to meet my need to alleviate the sense of isolation from these strong emotions welling inside me in that moment.
In the past I wouldn’t have done this – fear of judgement would have only added to my feelings of inadequacy, isolating me further from connecting to human kindness and compassion.
Finally, today, I am free and ready to write and I find myself stuck in the glue of procrastination, feeling the energy of creative expression drain away and leaving me feeling the full force of an overwhelming sense of fear and inadequacy! I am stuck, immobile, and unable to write or think. So, now I am taking a self-compassion break:
“This is a moment of suffering, I am not alone in this suffering; all beings suffer. What do I need right now? What do I need to hear right now?”
To take a breath, and say to myself “I accept myself just as I am; it’s OK; don’t worry. Take a moment, gather yourself – it will be alright”… and so it is and I can write.
What allowed for this moment of being aware that I was suffering through procrastination? I was looking at other blogs on the HeartWorks beautiful, sincere, intelligently and compassionately designed website and had just finished reading the blog “Starting a new chapter with backdraft.” Wow! Not only did it resonate, I found myself making less than favourable comparisons embroiled with wishes and striving that created suffering and stuck me with that glue of procrastination. The inner critic soon popped up “This website is so much better than mine, I wish I could write so eloquently…” The inner critic took its opportunity to deepen the feelings of ‘inadequacy’ and to throw me into a felt sense of shame. This moment of suffering was brief: I became mindful of what I was feeling in the moment, recognised the common humanity, and took the time to be kind to myself and meet my needs.
Self-compassion does not entail evaluations or comparisons with others. Rather it is a kind, connected, and clear –sighted way of relating to ourselves even in instances of failure, perceived inadequacy, and imperfection.
So here I am writing a blog – unashamedly personal, authentic, honest, and deeply heartfelt.
The mindful path to self-compassion has led me on a journey of self-discovery that enables me to face difficulties, meet them with compassion, and overcome them in the best way I can.
So, returning to the title of my blog. “Self-Compassion: An antidote for procrastination and the daily struggle for self-acceptance.” Kristin Neff differentiates between self-compassion and self-esteem: “Self–esteem entails elevating oneself positively and often involving the need to be special and above average. Self-compassion does not entail evaluations or comparisons with others; rather it is a kind, connected, and clear-sighted way of relating to ourselves even in instances of failure, perceived inadequacy, and imperfection.”
Now some four years into my daily mindful self-compassion practice, and having the profound privilege, one year on, of teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion programme, I continue learning every day that I can be inspired without seeking comparison. I am learning to not be so hard on myself; I am not expecting so much of myself and I am meeting my unmet needs in the moment with a self-compassion break. This enables me to continue my life’s vocation, honestly and authentically with my students and clients along the path. A path that I continue along, that I am so grateful to have found, with joy and a skip in my step!
- Soothing Touch and Self-Compassion Break (24 minutes) - November 3, 2021
- Affectionate Breathing (18 minutes) - October 27, 2021
- Guilt, Shame, Soul Purpose and Spirituality - May 11, 2017
- Self-Compassion and Shame Resilience - April 11, 2017
- Climbing the Mindful Self-Compassion Mountain - February 25, 2017