We've all heard it a thousand times:
You NEED to be more compassionate with yourself!
Now you know that.
But HOW do you do that?
It sounds so easy.
You know you are full of love.
So you just need to show it to yourself, right?
So why does it seem so hard?
The trick is that the VAST majority of your judgements (including your self-judgements) come from your subconscious.
This means that they are all the thoughts and beliefs that you have accumulated over the past however-many-years-old-you-are years...unless you've gone through the process of consciously changing them.
An actionable step you can take to show yourself more love and compassion is to consciously step in and assess your situation when you notice your judgements about yourself and then choose to re-direct or change your thoughts.
I'll give you two of my own examples from the past year.
I noticed that I would...let's say self-depricate...often.
I would often catch myself SO angry with myself. I'd say:
You're so STUPID!! Why can't you.... (fill in the blank of whatever wasn't working).
When I consciously stopped myself I noticed that it most often occurred EITHER:
when I was feeling angry, frustrated, or disappointed about something. Since I've learned that all of those are 'bad' emotions, I chose to call myself stupid instead of allowing myself to feel the emotion;
when I did something 'wrong' while I was trying to change a habit.
To show myself compassion, I did two things:
1) I learned to name my emotions and gave myself permission to feel them. I dropped the moral judgement I had that said that anger, frustration, and disappiointment are 'bad' emotions, and just let them be emotions that needed to be felt.
2) With prompt from my coach, whenever I heard myself call myself stupid, I corrected myself and changed the word 'stupid' to 'silly'.
It may sound silly, but there's a big difference in the emotion behind calling your self stupid (Ugh! You're so stupid, I can't believe you made that mistake AGAIN!) and calling yourself silly (Aww, silly Melanie...you did it again, that's so silly! You can choose different now).
This small redirection did not take a lot of time in my day. I certainly didn't catch myself all the time at first. But the change eventually shifted the way I react to my own mistakes and the way I process my 'negative' emotions.
I realized that one of the major reasons that I would feel unworthy was when I felt that I had been lazy.
As someone who spent many years in graduate school, earning a PhD and then working in different academic jobs, I can tell you that I highly valued productivity AND I was fully immersed in environments that valued productivity in many cases higher than family, health, and ... well, everything, really.
Even though I've changed and productivity is no longer one of my values, many of these thoughts, beliefs, and judgements are still strong in my brain.
Since I still work in productivity-valuing contexts (as a research associate and as an entrepreneur), I have to be extra conscious and compassionate about my thoughts, beliefs, and judgements around productivity.
This work has been a little more challenging for me that a simple redirection when I hear me call myself stupid (as in Example 1).
I've taken a few steps, which have REALLY helped:
1) I've defined my current values. Then when I'm feeling unworthy due to a lack of productivity, I can come back to my true values and assess if I've been living aligned with my own values.
2) I created a vision for the life I desire based on WHO I want to become and WHY I want it.
Now I can refer back to it to see if I am in alignment. In this productivity case, it's super helpful because it helps me see the life I want to live (which is not working 24/7) and also makes sure that I'm not working super hard just for the sake of it. When I am producing, I can be more efficient by making sure I am producing things that bring me toward my vision/goal/dream life.
3) Most importantly, I've learned to ask the question "is this mine?" (thanks to my coach). This is one of the most powerful questions I ask myself. When I notice myself judging myself, I take a moment and ask "is this mine?"
Do I really believe that I am lazy for not working extra overtime and producing heaps of publications and reports? Or is this judgement coming from something I've learned in the past, or something I fear someone else is judging me for? (or both).
If I realize the judgement is not mine, I can re-write my true beliefs:
Old belief: Your worth is based on how productive you are at work.
New belief: You are loved and accepted for who you are authentically.
Being conscious of some of my thoughts has made a HUGE difference in my life.
It sounds easy. It is and it isn't.
It is, because "all you have to do" is catch yourself judging yourself and re-frame/re-direct.
It's not because it's undoing YEARS of learning and 'proof' that your brain has used to create your current reality. And its also not so easy because the societal norm is to judge and dislike yourself. Unconditional self-love and compassion is NOT the norm. Even if you've managed to have an AMAZING group of self-loving friends, there is a strong chance that you go to work, the gym/studio, out on the town, watch TV, listen to the radio, scroll Instagram or Facebook, and are constantly feeding your brain with more proof of your current judgements.
It's not a lost cause.
It just needs to be a conscious effort.
And if you are up for it, the reward of self-compassion and self-love is approximately the BEST reward you could achieve.
Don't forget to celebrate yourself along the way!
Volair's Devotion program supports you through making these conscious choices and actions to lead a more authentic and aligned life. To be among the first to hear when the next program launches, sign up for our weekly newsletter. You'll also get access to more juicy content, like this to support you to step up and shine your brightest.