You’ve probably heard the old saying that you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.
As trite as it sounds, this is really true. In order for you to cultivate other relationships you must have a good relationship with yourself.
One way we defeat ourselves is by not having compassion for ourselves.
What compassion means?
Compassion means feeling empathy and having a true understanding of what youâ€™re going through.
You may have compassion for others but donâ€™t show yourself the same thing. If you donâ€™t have compassion for yourself you may also find that you donâ€™t have compassion for others.
Factors influencing compassion:
Compassion is comprised of several factors – understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.
Trying to understand is the first step in the direction of compassion.
- Whether it is an understanding of something important about yourself or someone else, truly understanding gives you a fresh new perspective.
- Try to put yourself in the position of the other person. Understanding can bring new and different responses.
- Instead of the same old response, having insight enables you to break free of the usual responses.
- Sometimes understanding is easy but other times it can be very difficult. If you are having trouble understanding someone step back and take some time away. Then face the situation again.
- Continue to try to look at the situation until you can really understand it. Often we donâ€™t take that time and either jump to conclusions or discount the other personâ€™s view.
Acceptance is an acknowledgment of the facts, without making a judgment.
- Acceptance asks us to accept without approving or disapproving.
- To truly accept you need to put aside any preconceived notions and simply accept.
- Acceptance of yourself means that you really accept certain things about yourself and no longer either try to change them or use them as a self-putdown.
- You may know the facts about someone but need to refrain from making any judgments and know that they are who they are.
- Acceptance is sometimes a lacking component in a marriage. Without truly accepting your partner for who they are, you are judging and hoping they will change.
Forgiveness flows from understanding and acceptance. Without understanding and acceptance it is hard, if not impossible, to have forgiveness.
- Forgiveness allows you to move forward without dwelling on a situation or mistake. It does not mean that you forget it or that you shouldnâ€™t learn from it. It only means that you accept the situation for what it is and are able to look to the future.
- Often, people get hung up on the forgiveness step because they canâ€™t move on, stuck in the situation. They may feel as though they will forget if they move forward so they continue to dwell in the past, going over scenarios over and over again.
- If you are the one who made a mistake, forgiveness is necessary to move forward.
Compassion can be cultivated. It takes experience and practice to harbor compassion both for you and for others. Give yourself a break. When something goes wrong donâ€™t automatically think the worst or expect the worst.
Try to first give yourself a break. Think about children. We automatically treat children with more compassion than we do adults. When a child feels badly we come to their aid.
We may hug them and tell them that everything will be all right. Do the same for yourself. Instead of beating yourself up over a problem or mistake think about nurturing yourself.
How to become compassionate?
- In order to become compassionate you need to work towards being more compassionate every day.
- You need to make a commitment to a new way of thinking.
- Begin by placing importance on the commitment.
- You will have to replace negativity with compassionate responses. These are born through understanding, acceptance and forgiveness (More info on Forgiveness).
- When faced with a situation, work through the components of compassion.
Start by asking yourself several questions to help you understand the situation, such as:
- What need was being met with the behavior?
- What awareness was an influence in the behavior?
- What feelings influenced the behavior?
Next, make three statements that help you to accept without judgment.
- I accept them (or myself) without judgment for feeling of wrongdoing.
- I wish _(Blank)_ hadnâ€™t happened but it was only an attempt to meet their or my needs.
- No matter the outcome of the decision, I accept the person who did it as they did the best they could.
Finally, make two forgiveness statements about the situation.
- I can let it go, itâ€™s over.
- Nothing is owed for the mistake.
Use this technique by writing down the various questions and statements each time the situation arises.
Once you are used to the technique you can go through the steps and statements easily in your mind. Remember not to skip any steps and donâ€™t let yourself off the hook. These apply to you as well as to situations involving others.
Developing compassion in your life:
- Try to remember to treat yourself well.
- When something bad happens try to stop yourself from jumping to conclusions or telling yourself you are a bad person.
- People with low self-esteem (Tips for boosting self-esteem) listen to their inner voices that tell them they are bad or wrong or worthless.
- Stop all the negative talks and negative thoughts.
- Learn to have compassion for yourself.
- Praise yourself for the positives but use the negatives as a learning tool. In fact, donâ€™t even think of them as negatives.
- Learn to give yourself compliments.
- Learn to accept compliments from others. If someone tells you they like your outfit, donâ€™t say â€œoh, this old thing?â€ Instead, a simple â€œthank youâ€ will do.
People with low self-confidence often have trouble accepting compliments. To start with, list all the features and qualities about yourself that you like. You can list both physical and intellectual qualities. Study the list. Add three more things to the list.
Practice telling yourself these positive things in front of a mirror. It will do wonders for your self-confidence and will also build up the confidence of the person who gave you the compliment. Remember that you are as deserving of compliments as anyone else.
Every one of us has both positive traits along with some negative ones. Everyone is good at some things but also has some things they arenâ€™t as good at.
Learning to feel compassion:
This article will help you learn to feel compassion for others. The purpose is to give you a safe and non-threatening situation to practice putting aside any snap judgments and help you get insight into points of view you normally donâ€™t get a chance to see.
Choose a television show to watch that you donâ€™t usually watch. Pick a show that is totally opposite of a show you would normally see. If you usually like comedies, choose a drama, if you like game shows choose a soap opera. You get the picture.
Now watch the show, being sure to pay close attention to it. Whenever you feel bored, irritated or disgusted, donâ€™t turn the channel.
Instead, put those feelings aside and focus back on the program. Tell yourself that even though this isnâ€™t a show you like, you can set aside your feelings and watch it. Donâ€™t be judgmental.
Think about the people who regularly watch the show. What do you imagine they get out of it? Try to understand the many things that may attract people to the show. Think about what the people who watch the show are like.