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Self-Compassion: Why is it so hard?

The fall begins as a season of harvest and ends with the darkest day of the year; then winter begins with the process of gaining light as we become reborn again. This life-death-rebirth cycle is a sacred rhythm.

With winter solstice upon us, those of us in the northern hemisphere are being asked to shed what isn’t working as we step into the waxing light.

I invite you to use this time of year to evaluate where you are in your life and determine what you want to release so you can move forward.

However, before you ride off into the dusk of new beginnings with high hopes of shedding what hasn’t been working and desires to create massive breakthrough goals, I beckon you to do one more thing: please be sure to evaluate where you’re currently at with loving kindness.

As a society, we hear 40 million messages daily that we aren’t good enough. Worse yet, many of us operate under the belief that if we can just criticize ourselves enough, we’ll feel motivated to push ourselves to strive and to achieve “the thing” we really want.

The truth is more often than not, what we need more than any thing, product, or service is to have more compassion with ourselves.

According to researcher Paul Gilbert, people are afraid to have self-compassion – we feel it’s passive and that we aren’t deserving of it. Our society perpetuates the idea that compassion could undermine our motivation. To make matters worse, in addition to the massive influences encouraging us to believe we suck and need to find external vices to fix us, our own human psyches are naturally resistant towards trusting compassion.

Resistance to compassion might not be an easy thing to overcome, but it is possible.

To start, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What if I could feel compassionate about myself (and my aptitude for compassion) instead of being critical, judgmental, competitive, and unaccepting of it?
  • How would things be different if I could find a way to open my heart in the face of my suffering?

For me, 2013 has felt like a year of total takeoff, and somewhere near the midpoint I became bone-shakingly clear that none of this – and I do mean none of it – means anything if I am not consistently embodying compassion towards myself and others.

Sure we can change lives, make great money, strive and achieve our goals, but unless we can be kind to ourselves … who are we really capable of being kind to? In the face of being unkind to ourselves, kindness to others becomes a farce. A ludicrous, empty show; a mockery.” Yup. A mockery.

This year my solstice prayer is to become more compassionate towards myself and towards others. I am releasing my fear that compassion in and of itself is not a goal worthy of achieving!  (I am sure once I complete Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map, I’ll name it as a core desired feeling.) The truth is, for me, it’s the only goal worth achieving.

What are some things you might shed this time of year? How can you give yourself the compassion you need to move into the rebirth of the next season?

As we officially complete the death cycle and prepare for the return of light and life, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know your thoughts below.

As always, I send you my deep, deep love!  Happy solstice and happy holidays to you.



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1 Comment

  • Yari

    I really like this post. I find myself being less than compassionate with myself and I know that I can stand to treat myself with a little more love. I’ve made note of your questions and will aim to keep them in mind when I find I’m being too hard on myself. There are definitely things I stand to change and address and this seems to be the year my soul is staging an intervention, lol, so it’s very important that I remind myself to take it one step at a time and not judge how I’m progressing. Thanks for the great post!

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