Self Compassion


To survive in this high pressured, crazy world

most of us have to become highly

adept at self-criticism.

We learn how to tell ourselves off for our failures

and for not working hard or smart enough.

But so good are we at this

that we're sometimes in danger of falling prey

to an excessive form of self-criticism

What we might call self-flagellation

a rather dangerous state which just ushers in

depression and under-performance.

We might simply lose the will to get out of bed.

For those moments, we need a corrective.

We need to carve out time

for an emotional state of which many of us are

profoundly suspicious.


We're suspicious because that sounds horribly close to self-pity

But because depression and self-hatred are serious enemies of a good life,

we need to appreciate the role of self-care

in a good, ambitious and fruitful life.

To this end

we can perform what we've called a,

"self-compassion exercise"

A structured meditation, lasting 15 minutes or so

Lying in bed, or perhaps a bath

Turn over a sequence of thoughts

that interrupt and correct the flow of

your worse self-accusations.

For a time adopt an entire kindly perspective on your setbacks

The self compassion exercise goes like this:

We're so in love with success

we fail to notice the scale of the challenges

we routinely set ourselves.

There is nothing remotely normal about what we've tried to achieve.

We've failed, but given the mountain we were trying to climb,

the conclusion doesn't have to be that we're simply flawless.

We have tricky family histories, we all do.

There were things which happened to us

at the hands of others which can help

to explain some of our current troubles.

We're not entirely sane or well,

but none of us are.

We weren't well set up to carry out certain tasks

It isn't wholly our fault in the here and now.

From the media, you'd think everyone

was rich and famous and successful.

But in reality, undramatic, quiet failure

is by a huge margin the statistical norm.

We shouldn't tear ourselves apart

for not managing to be to what were

in truth, awesome odds.

Tough, self-critical people don't allow themselves

the indulgence of believing in luck.

They take responsibility for everything.

They think winners make their own luck

But they don't for the most part.

Luck is a genuine feature of existence

We're robbing ourselves of fair concilation

By believing that we're entirely in control,

and therefore entirely to blame when we crash.

You are not only your achievements.

Status and material success are one bit of you.

But there are others as well,

those who loved you in childhood knew this,

and in their best moments helped you to feel it.

Rehearse the internalized voices of all those

who have been kind to you.

Bathe in the memory of a laugh

independent of achievement.

It seems it will never end

That's not the truth

It's just how a crisis feels.

You need to reduce expectations to zero

for a time.

Take each new hour as it comes,

and without being banal,

what you need most of all,

is some rest.