One of the things I come back to again and again in my coaching practice is self-compassion.
In a culture in which success is valued above well being, most of us end up putting an enormous amount of pressure of performance on ourselves. Performance at any cost. Self acceptance is for many foreign, unattainable or even offensive. This is inhuman. Rejection starts from within when we refuse to be compassionate with ourselves. And we often project it onto others.
When we do this to ourselves we inevitably do it to the people we love and those we work or live with. We put pressure on ourselves and we put pressure on them. What results is emotional pain which leads to numbness (depression, apathy), anxiety, hopelessness and an acute feeling of insufficiency. Nothing is enough. Life is not enough. Others are not enough and we are not enough. This is an illusion, and it’s an illusion we can transcend.
We can learn to recognize our intrinsic value and preciousness outside of any conditions whatsoever. We can learn unconditional positive self-regard and self-care. When we do this, when we show up fully for our humanity, even when it’s difficult, even when it’s uncomfortable, we free ourselves from the manufactured societal pressure that murders our vitality and we create meaningful and generative connections.
An affirmation which I often offer my clients is:
“I am enough as I am”.
I usually get a lot of backlash for this. It’s so hard for us to imagine that we are worthy of peace, joy and rest as we are, that the continuous striving, trying, doing isn’t really adding anything to our value.
Self acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It needs to be practiced. Repeatedly. It needs our patience and our willingness to be uncomfortable sometimes. It will feel awkward and untrue at first. That’s normal. Stay the course! The journey to self-compassion is gradual and sometimes it advances in very small increments.
There is work to be done. In our culture, in ourselves. There is a balance between doing too much and complacency. There is room for both. We can experience and integrate both become more whole as we do that.