It has been a long journey. I started in Judgment City and I’m now on my way to Compassion Paradise. Not that it’s perfect…but even when I mess up (and I do–a lot!), I just treat myself with kindness. But, let me start at the beginning…
For years, I felt miserable. Nobody knew it. On the outside, people would see me as calm and generally happy. On the inside, I was constantly putting myself down–judging and criticizing myself. If I made a mistake, I would replay the scenario over and over in my head.
One day, I became aware of how unhappy I felt. I noticed that most of my thoughts that ran on “auto-pilot” were negative and fearful. I thought about all the possible things that could go wrong in order to “prepare” myself. Little did I know that it was contributing to my anxiety and stress. I was my worst critic.
Then, I woke up. I said ENOUGH. I’m tired of feeling this way. I couldn’t see the point of going through life feeling this miserable. I hated how I was always so judgmental with myself. Yet I was compassionate with my friends if they would have been in the same situation. I knew something needed to change. This is when I made a CHOICE to do something different.
Becoming an Observer (Increase Awareness)
First, I paid a lot more attention to my thoughts. It was so hard to do at the beginning. It was painful to notice my negative thoughts and to realize that I treated myself so horribly. I also noticed that I would judge myself for having these thoughts (“OMG, here I go again! I’m judging myself again. UGH. I can’t get anything right!”). It wasn’t easy, but I stuck with it. I practiced being a “witness” or an “observer” of my thoughts. With this AWARENESS, it was easier to then make a different choice.
Make Space–Practice Deep Breathing
Anytime I would catch myself having these thoughts, I practiced taking a few slow, deep breaths. This helps slow down our thoughts. By noticing your body as you are breathing, it interrupts that loop of judgment, criticism and worry. I would notice how my belly moved as I breathed. I would pay attention to where I was holding tension in my body (usually my shoulders). As I relaxed my shoulders and focused on my breathing, I created space to have different types of thoughts. Thoughts that are less reactive and more compassionate.
Slowly, I began practicing ACCEPTANCE of what was happening in the moment. I accepted the thoughts that were there in a non-judgmental way (“Hmmm…. I wonder where this thought is coming from?”). I accepted that a particular situation was happening and my thoughts and feelings around it.
Shift To Helpful, Compassionate Thoughts
Then, I SHIFTED the thought to what I wanted out of the situation. For example, if I had a thought like “I messed up again. I’m always messing up!”, I would shift the thought to “Everyone makes mistakes, including me. I can learn from my mistakes. I will get through this. I’m allowing myself to learn and grow with ease.”
It’s easier to feel compassion for yourself when you treat yourself with kindness. You would do it for your friends….why not treat yourself this way? The more I treat myself with compassion, the happier I feel in my day to day life and the more confidence I have that I can handle any situation.
How can you let go of the negative and judgmental thoughts? How can you bring more acceptance and compassion in your life? Comment here and let me know! If you found this article helpful, feel free to share to your family and friends!
If you need more help with bringing acceptance and compassion in your life, reach out to me here!