Cultivating self-compassion is effing hard, and that's OK.
I teach my clients about self-compassion every day. I point them toward Kristin Neff and Brene Brown for evidence and inspiration. I support them to recognise when they are being self-critical, what it sounds like, and how it impacts their relationships with themselves and others. Together we figure out and practice strategies for how to recognise those thoughts outside of the therapy room as well. I work with them to challenge and change their self-criticism in to something more gentle, respectful, and kind. But at the end of the day, even though I believe that we are inherently self-compassionate, undoing years of criticism it isn't easy. It takes time. And it's effing hard.
When you've had a lifetime of disliking yourself, and reinforcing those neural pathways in your brain, it is really offing hard to change the way you speak to yourself - no matter how much sense it makes to do so. We also live in a world and a culture that praises 'tough love' and encourages us to criticise our bodies and play down our accomplishments so as not to 'brag'. Not to mention the harsh rhetoric around self-motivation. All of this reinforces self-criticism and makes it difficult to practice self-compassion.
So if you're struggling with self-compassion, I want you to know that it's OK.
If you are struggling to be kinder to yourself, it's OK.
If you need to start by simply acknowledging your self-criticism, that's totally OK. In fact, it's a great start.
If it feels easier to try and imagine someone you love saying something kind to you, that's OK.
If you don't believe that you'll ever feel deserving of self-compassion, it's OK to stick with trying to show yourself a little bit more respect instead. For example, you could try to stop cursing yourself or your body. Or change 'should' with 'could' in your inner dialogue.
You do NOT need to get this 'right'. One of the main points of cultivating self-compassion is to stop beating yourself up when you screw up, get it 'wrong', or struggle to make sense of something.
Wherever you're at with self-compassion, it is OK.
And it's totally OK if all you can do right now is ponder the idea that where you're at could be OK xx
Action point: Find yourself a post-it and write: "It's OK". Stick it on the mirror in your bedroom, or scatter multiple post-it's throughout your home. Whenever you pass by one, pause to check in with yourself. Then read what it says. Whatever emotion or thought popped up in that moment, just remind yourself: "It's OK".