What is Self-Compassion?

Loving the ADHD devil – DAY 0

I am reading a lot about self-compassion, during my therapy sessions, together with my psychologist, I have found out that I lack the ability to love myself, on most days I can not even be nice to myself. I have very high standards, I don’t allow mistakes and most importantly, I do not listen to my true feelings and desires. I don’t allow or recognize the true me that is hidden inside me, and this is part of why I broke down.

I have spend decades hiding every part of myself that I believed wasn’t good enough. I’ve been beating myself up, treating every weakness with anger, telling myself I was never good enough. Not once have I comfort myself, not once did I show compassion for my own suffering. I lack self-love and I desperately need to learn how to be more nice to myself, master the art of self-compassion in order to get back to the life I once had.

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is about being kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. The most important things about self-compassion is to accept and even honor your humanness. Things in life don’t always go the way we want them to, we will encounter frustrations, losses, mistakes and limitations, but this is what it means to be human, this is part of our reality.

Self-compassion is about opening your heart to the reality of being human. We have to stop fighting the things that make us human, the struggles that come with life, in order to feel compassion for ourselves and everyone else. Self-compassion involves treating yourself in the same and kind way you would treat a friend that’s going through a hard time, it is about allowing your feelings to exist, to listen to them and understand when you need help with something.

3 elements of self-compassion

1. Self-kindness, instead of self-judgement

When you suffer or fail, don’t ignore your feelings or criticize yourself, instead, use warmth and understanding. Being human means you can not always be great, you can not always get what you want. When you deny or fight being human, you will only increase your suffering, with stress, frustration and self-criticism. You need to be gentle and kind towards yourself, you need to have sympathy for your humanness in order to feel calm, to reach an emotional serenity.

2. Common humanity, instead of isolation

When you fail or make a mistake, you often see yourself alone in this failure and the frustration and anger that comes with it. You isolate yourself, blaming yourself to be the only person to which this happens. But you are not the only person that makes mistakes, we all do. Mistakes are part of our humanness. Self-compassion teaches that you are not alone in your failures, it is part of the human experience, being human means being mortal vulnerable and imperfect. Suffering is not to blame on you, nor are you the only person that suffers, it is simply part of our shared-human experience.

3. Mindfulness, instead of over-identification

Feelings should be neither suppressed, nor exaggerated, they should be balanced. Mindfulness in a non-judgemental receptive state of the mind, in which you observe thoughts and feelings as they are. You shouldn’t deny your feelings, however, they should also not be over-identified. Mindfulness teaches to look at your feelings as they are, without being swept away by negative reactivity, without letting them take over.

Wrong habits

When I was reading about these 3 elements of self-compassion, I recognized that my whole life, I’ve been choosing the wrong option. When something bad happens, or even when I make just the smallest mistake, I:

1. Let this on thing take over my entire mind, covering my whole day and everything about myself in negativity > over-identification.
2. Think that I’m alone in making this mistake, that it’s my own fault that I should fix by myself and should hide from everyone else > isolation
3. Hate myself for it, beat myself up for making a mistake and hate myself for not being better > self-judgement

Reading about self-compassion confronts me with how mean I’ve always been to myself, how I miss the ability to be compassionate towards myself in the way I am compassionate towards the people around me. I always try to help my family and friends with their problems, I always want to be there for them but I have never been there for myself, I didn’t even recognize my own problems and I definitely didn’t allow anyone else to be there for me.

Acknowledge without hate

The hardest thing I’m struggling with at the moment, the hardest part of my first steps into being a bit better at self-compassion, is to stop being angry at myself. The more I read, the more I notice how wrong I’ve been, but often my reaction to this realization is again filled with anger. I notice how I’ve been to hateful towards myself, however, in my first reaction, I hate myself for hating myself, which is not the compassion I am supposed to feel.

I see my lack of self-compassion as a mistake I shouldn’t have made, and even when I acknowledge the misplaced hate I’ve been treating myself with, I judge myself for doing so. It is like I make a mistake, see that I’ve made that mistake, only to make the same mistake all over again. I want to learn from my mistakes, however my first reaction is always the reaction that made me make the mistake in the first place.

Strength of the familiar

I notice how strong my habits of self-hate are. I start to understand how to do things differently in order to feel better, however, my reaction is often based on my old habits. I have been wired wrong, but I have lived like that for so long that an abrupt change is impossible since my old habits are too familiar to me.

I feel like the books I read are analyzed by my (ADHD) angel, who understands I deserve more love and kindness in my life. But the minute my angel realizes the need of compassion, the devil takes over, and turns her words into a long list of mistakes I have made and should be punished for. In a ways it’s funny to notice this process inside my mind, to see how a positive discovery, filled with love towards myself, turns into something negative so quickly, but it also shows how hard change will be for me.

Baby steps

I should cherish the angel’s positivity, because even if I result in returning to my old habits of self-hate, this positivity has been able to pop-up in the middle, something that has never happened before and shows that I’m changing. Before I started with learning about self-compassion there was just negativity, whenever I would make a mistake or face a challenge. Now at least there is this tiny moment of positivity and I even notice how the duration of the positivity increases with each challenge I face.

More and more often, I manage to give myself some love, to treat my insecurities and failures with kindness and to feel less alone in them. I start to share more, I start to listen to myself and little by little I am able to set lower standards and allow my own emotions to be there. Although the result is far from perfect, I am improving every time I’m confronted with something that triggers my old habits of self-hate.

30 DAYS

Me being truly self-compassionate is far away. However, I am getting closer every single day. I think it is time for another 30 days of writing challenge for me, 30 days of reflecting on how I feel about myself and hopefully 30 days of growing the kindness inside of me. 30 days of loving the ADHD devil, learning him how to love, and teaching myself how to love him and the person I am together with him.

 

 

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