Self-compassion is critical to our happiness, our well-being, and our ability to live wholeheartedly. Yet, many of us struggle with being self-compassionate and loving ourselves. So many of us are the first to step up and be compassionate to others. We understand things happen. We acknowledge that sometimes people get stretched thin or beyond emotional breaking points. We remind others of their virtues and goodness in the world. We love others despite circumstance. Yet, when it’s us who makes the misstep, or has a pitfall our harshest inner critic drags us into a metaphorical boxing ring and has a go. We beat ourselves up. We tell ourselves we should have known better. We hold on to perfection. Others can make mistakes or break down or come up short and still be worthy and loved. We cannot.
As a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator, the words of Brené Brown often remind me of a different way of being human. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brown says,
“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
The part of this statement that always hits home for me being someone who is deeply committed to loving relationships is:
“…we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
The bottom line is that in order to be in service to others in the way I want to be, I have to be in service to myself first. I have to be self-compassionate and love myself unconditionally to fully unlock my capacity to wholeheartedly love those in my community.
According to Kristin Neff, the world’s leading expert on self-compassion, self-compassion is comprised of three elements:
Self-Kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate.
Common Humanity: Recognizing that suffering and feelings of inadequacy are things we all experience and go through, rather than something that happens to me alone.
Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated, rather than over identifying with negative feelings and getting swept away.
Let’s actively working on these three components of self-compassion. They will help empower us to be fully available in our relationship with self and to others.
“…we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” Brené Brown