I sometimes find myself having quite exhausting conversations with someone who is critical, judgemental, has extremely high standards and is not very forgiving. This person is not my boss, my mother or even my well intentioned mother in law...it is me.
This critical part of my personality berates me whenever I fall below certain parenting “standards”.
Sometimes the inner chatter goes something like this:
“My house is such a mess, how does my friend manage to have a spotless place? I am obviously just not coping.”
or “I can’t believe I lost my cool and raised my voice when my son had a tantrum, I am not a good mother...”
The list could go on and on.
Have a little think about what things you normally chastise yourself about.
Fortunately there is a simple remedy to soften that sometimes harsh critical voice. That remedy is self-compassion.
Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong process to develop compassion for ourselves.
It seems that it doesn’t come easily to most of us. It is as though we believe that if we are really hard on ourselves we will become perfect human beings.
Self-compassion means accepting our humanity and mistakes and relating to ourselves with kindness. This doesn’t mean that any behaviour is ok; what I am proposing here is that by accepting our mistakes with kindness we are in a better platform from which to learn. Guilt and shame might well work in the short term but a kind hearted attitude towards yourself can be a lifelong source of motivation for positive change.
Your child is coming to you 20 years from now and tells you about his or her mistakes and failings which are the same as yours in the present (real or created by your own perfectionism).
What would you say? Would you be harsh and critical? Would you be kind and understanding?
Know that you can access that same compassion inside you now. Just as the critical voice exists inside you so does this more benevolent compassionate one.
If like me, you believe that we are all doing our best, with the energy and resources we have available, not only can you be more compassionate towards yourself but you will naturally become more compassionate towards others around you. And perhaps the critical voice can become more of a whisper.
Self-compassion fosters Mental Health
Here is an interesting article in self-compassion if you want to find out more: