Scratching the Surface: Compassion vs Criticism



Recently, I started an online course called Self-Compassion with Kristen Neff and Brene Brown”. I watched a Ted talk with Brene Brown and heard about an online academy she was developing called “courage works” a while back. When a friend mentioned the self-compassion course on Facebook, I knew I needed to check it out. The idea of having a self compassion habit/ practice is something foreign to me.  I spent much of my life being self-critical, not self-compassionate. I used harsh self-judgement as a way to motivate myself to be better, work harder, and achieve more. I achieved some measured success in my academic and professional careers but I wasn’t happy. And it really confused me. I “should” be happy but I just wasn’t. Back then, I did a terrible job of taking care of myself. I’d skip meals, work through lunch, and hardly drink water. I was an exhausted, dehydrated, and hungry stress ball. I put so many things and people ahead of my needs: work, boyfriends, friendships, family stuff. After a while that kind of lifestyle started to take its toll. Something had to give.

In a few short years, I have made a lot of changes, my quality of life has dramatically improved and I learn more about myself and the life I want to live every day.  Cue the self compassion course. So, if anyone feels or has felt resistance to the concepts of self-care, self-love, and self-compassion, it’s this girl right here.  It used to sound so self-indulgent to me. But here’s the thing, at some point I had to ask myself if what I was putting myself through was really worth it.  Self-judgement and Self-criticism had gotten me far but it also cost me a lot.  What I find SO GREAT about this course is that it is grounded in scientific evidence.  I mean it’s great to love yourself and be kind to yourself just for the sake of it, but what if you learned that shifting your relationship with yourself in this way also made you more likely to succeed in any and all areas of your life?  Based on what I have been learning, that is precisely the case.  Talk about an “A-Ha Moment”.  How many people feel guilty when they make a mistake?  I know I do.  Our errors and mistakes shatter our notions of perfection.  So often when we face our imperfection, we crumble.  I used to think that guilt was a valuable teacher; a necessary part of learning and growth was that you felt like complete shit at times.  The evidence presented in the course and in Kristen Neff’s book, “Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself”, reveals that the complete opposite is true.  When we treat ourselves harshly, when we scold ourselves for not getting it right every time, we actually inhibit our capacity and potential for growth and success.

The Dare: List the ways you are critical and judgmental of yourself.  How do you find self-criticism to be helpful in your life?  How would you feel if you let go of all your judgements of yourself?  What would your life look if you were more compassionate towards yourself? This can be a very challenging exercise.  Take your time and be honest.  And most importantly, try being kind to yourself.


Thursdays Just Got Special

Good day readers!  It’s been a while.  The truth is between the hustle and bustle of the workweek, my social and personal commitments, and a long list of other must-do’s, the task of expressing myself here has been neatly tucked far away into a box I’ve labeled “things I love to do but don’t have time for”.  Well today, I am pulling that box off the shelf and getting my ass back on track.  It has occurred to me that if I feel that I don’t have time to do the things I really love doing, then I am doing something wrong.  By spending the majority of my time doing all the things “I need to get done” for work, family, friends, etc. I am neglecting the very things that fulfill me the most.  My beloved yoga practice, writing, and research are the first things on the chopping block on a busy day.  I clearly have some room for growth in terms of priorities.  I have hit the mute button on the dreamy, creative, expressive side of me in favor of my pragmatic, analytical, logical side.  And that is not working for me anymore.  In stepping back to see what’s really going on here for me I realized that, at some point, I decided doing something for the love of it wasn’t really enough motivation for me.

In a world that’s driven by concrete deadlines, hard due dates and observable results, inspired creativity is like an elusive vapor that is no where and everywhere at the same time.  And I think for me, framing it as something that I want to get done but that isn’t ever due,  extinguishes the embers before I’ve even begun to let my words start to glow.  So, I have decided to start giving myself some deadlines.  Which means, you will be seeing more regularly scheduled posts this summer- every Thursday.  Excited? I am.

The Dare: Be honest about your own wishes, dreams, and desires.  What do you want to create in your life?  Give yourself a deadline and see if that helps motivate you and re-prioritize those things that you want to do just because you want to do them.  That’s surely reason enough but in this crazy world, a due date might be the little push we all need.