I work with many people that are very empathetic and compassionate, except towards themselves. It is interesting to me how so many of us have a double standard for behavior for ourselves and others. I believe that self-compassion is a cornerstone of a happy life.
Compassion is defined as
“a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
So feeling the pain or another and wanting to make it better. So why is it that many times when we have the opportunity to do this towards ourselves we cannot?
The other day I got into a fender bender. It was my fault. It was an accident and no person was hurt and the damage was relatively minor. But I beat myself up over for a few days. I knew I was doing it. Friends called me out on it. And I know that if a friend did the same thing I would say it’s okay. It was an accident. Things happen. So why did I struggle with it?
- We have visions of perfectionism for ourselves that we don’t hold others to. Somehow in my mind, I felt like I need to be perfect and I am not allowed a mistake. Not kind and not very realistic.
- We second-guess our decisions if they turn out poorly. I questioned why I had parked in the spot I had questioned earlier on. If I had not parked there the accident would not have happened. I did not question any of the million of decisions I made earlier in that day that turned out well. I picked one that may or may not have really contributed to the accident and focused on that.
- We have some sort of association that equates punishment with an accident or bad decision. In my mind, I had to beat myself up and give myself consequences for my mistake. Instead of just living with the natural consequences of repair costs.
So what did I do and what could I do differently. Well since I am practicing compassion I can say overall I did ok. I did ruminate on it for a bit but I was able to let it go after talking to friends. I recognized that my thought patterns were distorted and were not helping me. I also challenged my beliefs that this incident was going to be bigger than it was. I remind myself that even those compassionate to themselves might have a bit of self-pity or worry after a fender bender. I allowed myself to have my feelings and I moved on. Hopefully next mistake I make I can do even better with kindness towards myself.