That Caring Space Within You

16 Jan

“This is the best place to be “I said to my colleague as we sat savoring the sun set gently over the hills. She was quiet for a while and then burst into tears.

“There is something wrong with me” she said between sobs.” I just don’t feel good”. She went on to explain how flawed she was, never up to the mark and felt so unworthy.

As she spoke I saw how she berated herself and criticized herself for all her real and perceived errors.  She seemed to have lost the ability to love herself. Dwelling on her flaws, she brushed aside her positives and went on explaining how imperfect she was and how she hated herself for it.

It was as if in her belly basement there were hundreds of bottles of fear, rage and despair.

Occasionally during therapy one comes across people who find it difficult to love and accept themselves – Imperfections and all.

She needed to understand and implement the art of self- compassion or kindness to self – The ability to recognize the difference between making a bad decision and being a bad person. It reminds you to unconditionally accept yourself along with all your personal short comings rather than harshly judge yourself for every act of yours.

People who have self compassion are able to navigate through life’s disappointments without losing their self worth.

If we hold ourselves to impossible standards and never allow ourselves the possibility of things not going the well, chances are we wont allow the same for others and thus be incapable of forming healthy relationships not just with ourselves but also with others.

To live a life of happiness and contentment – self compassion is a key ingredient.

Tips to be kind to yourself –

# Reflect on your thought process

Acknowledge that the thoughts and feelings you carry along with you are responsible for the pain/anger/anxiety/depression you experience. What do you do when feelings of unworthiness grip you? Do you set out to prove you are better than others; get discouraged; resort to addictive behavior? Do these feelings persist because you try to live life according to the expectations of others? Its only when you get increasingly mindful of what your inner voice tells you each day that you will want to free yourself from that painful prison.

# Direct a more focused attention onto your feelings

Investigate without judgment what is it that’s asking for attention. A more pointed kind of inner inquiry will unearth those key feelings that lie masked under the unworthiness – A need to please others or the need to do everything right …every time? Imagine you bend down to pet a cat and she smacks you with her paw. After the initial anger you notice that her tail is caught in a trap. Now your anger shifts to concern and you understand that the cats’ reaction came from vulnerability and pain……So your focus shifts to easing its pain. That’s is what attending to your feelings do……you become aware of your painful feelings.

# Treat your self with compassion

Consider yourself as a child in a painful situation…. what would this child need the most ? Give yourself the same love as you would this child.

Compassion arises when we connect with our suffering

# Allow yourself to be flawed

Give yourself the ‘permission slip’ to be imperfect or lazy or having made a wrong decision. After all you are human and hence fallible.

# Challenge your Inner critic

Be aware of how your inner critic sabotages your thought process and distorts your reality.  Whenever you hear his persistent voice – know that its time to challenge him. Question these automatic thoughts and come up with realistic alternatives. No one is free from mistakes. That’s completely OK because fallibility is an inherent part of the human experience. Use affirmations like “I’m not perfect but I am learning’

# Work with a Therapist

Patterns of thought and behavior take time and effort to change. A therapist can hand hold while you learn to notice your thoughts, have a more realistic perspective of yourself and others and internalize new skills required to treat your self with compassion.

 

You need to treat yourself kindly; Infact you owe it to yourself.

Each of us is unique- A genuine bona fide snowflake of imperfection.

Both we and our lives are amazing and perfect the way it is –  And that’s what make us beautiful.

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