self-compassion

How to forgive yourself if you feel responsible

Forgiveness is truly healing, for both those that forgive and those that are forgiven. But what happens when we are dealing with loss and forgiveness is not offered or is impossible because those who could forgive have passed away?

 

When I asked for forgiveness it was not forthcoming. I struggled for ages with the notion that I would not receive the forgiveness I desperately wanted. Needed even. Whilst I was seeking forgiveness I was paralyzed, unable to let go and move on as I thought that was the only way I could be free. In time I realized that the reason I was so desperate for forgiveness was because I hadn’t yet forgiven myself.

 

Once I knew I had done everything I could to apologize and seek forgiveness, I realized that the only solution in order to really be able to let go and move on, was to forgive myself. Once I did, a great deal of healing took place. I felt more whole again, I felt freer. That was the beginning of my journey towards letting go and moving on.

 

If you are struggling to forgive yourself, every time you feel guilt or shame about how you behaved repeat this mantra in your head:

 

‘I did the best I knew how to at the time, given my life experience’

 

This in no way excuses your behavior but it will help you see things in context, with more self compassion. If you struggle with being self compassionate, please read my article titled ‘How to Silence Your Inner-Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend’ which is jammed packed with expert advice from leaders in the field, on how to be more self-compassionate.

 

The truth is we all make mistakes, sometimes with awful consequences. We need to offer ourselves self compassion and forgiveness first, before we can extend compassion and forgiveness to others.

 

Remember, if you are holding onto resentment, you are failing to let go and move on as well. If you are holding onto anger and resentment over a past hurt, please read my article titled ‘How to Liberate Yourself By Overcoming the Three Blocks to Forgiveness’.

 

In truth, both receiving and giving forgiveness is essential to have healthy hearts which are free from the diseased emotions of resentment and shame.

 

Do you need to forgive yourself? Are you holding on to resentment and anger? Can you see the advantages of offering forgiveness? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

How not to get discouraged when trying to foster more confidence

In today’s world where results are expected to be instant – this attitude fueled by both technology and the media – it is often forgotten that most things worthwhile take time. It is true that you can have breakthroughs and instant results (especially when Tony Robbins is your personal coach) but a little patience is usually required when developing a new habit, trait or skill. If you want to speed up this process try thinking of your reason why every time you feel discouraged to motivate you and picture yourself achieving the goal.

 

Often when we work towards something like fostering more confidence we can overly berate ourselves for stumbles along the way and fail to praise ourselves enough for the small wins. So every time you catch your inner critic saying something like ‘you got that wrong’ or ‘look, you did it again’ just roll your eyes and take no notice! For a more in depth look at silencing our inner critic please read my self-compassion article titled ‘How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend’.

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What’s in it for me? The transformative power of kindness and its inextricable link to long-term happiness Part Two

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we explored the health benefits of kindness. This week we examine the different types of kindness and how to foster greater kindness within.

 

Types of kindness

 

Kindness can be either spontaneous or planned. Spontaneous kindness usually results from a need we see in others in the moment, like offering to carry an old ladies shopping bags when we can see she is struggling or asking a friend who looks upset if she wants to talk or if there’s anything we can do to help. In any given day there are many opportunities to show spontaneous kindness. Once we consciously look for these opportunities and act upon them when they arise, we develop a deeper sense of fulfillment and happiness in life.

 

Likewise kindness can also be planned. For example, for my parents 40th anniversary I sent them on honeymoon as they had never had one when they first got married. This was a meticulously planned event but nevertheless it was an act of kindness. The joy I felt in knowing that my parents had a luxury trip away – the type of holiday they would never have planned for themselves – was immense and made me feel incredibly happy.

 

How to foster greater kindness within

 

Empathy

 

Try to see things from others perspectives and understand that we are all united in so far as we all endure struggles and battle with our fears. If you don’t feel empathic towards others initially you can prompt loving feelings by being kind first, as often when we are kind, feelings of empathy naturally follow.

 

Be kind to yourself

 

Remember that you are just as worthy as everyone else. Take time to practice being kind to yourself too. Often this involves dismissing negative thinking and working on your self-esteem. If you find that you are continually failing to be kind to yourself, read my article on self-esteem and my more advanced article on self-compassion.

 

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Five

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Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Why the work we do on ourselves helps others too…

 

In her conclusion of the series, Tami Simon, the founder and publisher of Sounds True, eloquently describes the notion of projection (projection being an unconscious self-defence mechanism characterised by a person unconsciously attributing their own issues onto someone or something else) by going on to say that…

 

“the work we do to accept the unlovable parts of ourselves, to accept the actions that we take that we wish we hadn’t taken. That that work is not work that we’re just doing for ourselves alone. Not at all. It’s work we’re doing for the whole world and to quote Parker Palmer, he talked about how racism and homophobia and every form of scapegoating that we’ve ever known in the world, it comes actually from the part of people where they can’t accept themselves. ‘I have to scapegoat and put you down because you’re bringing forward something in me that I can’t stand to look at.’ So when we do this work of self-acceptance we’re actually liberating humans to be accepted for who they are. When we accept ourselves we can accept other people.”

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Four

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Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

 

How to deal with shame…

 

One of the ongoing themes to the interviews that I saw surrounded shame – a destructive emotion that tells us we are something wrong as opposed to guilt, which is useful and tells us we’ve done something wrong.  I think that one of the reasons why shame was such a central theme in the series is because when we experience shame, our inner critic goes into hyper drive.

 

Brene Brown, an award winning speaker who has spent the past ten years researching vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame gave one piece of advice that stuck with me at a core level. Brene’s self confessed mantra is “don’t text, talk or type anything” when you are in a state of shame.

 

Once you have calmed down Brene suggests confiding in a friend or family member. “If you put shame in a Petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and you douse it with empathy you create an environment that’s hostile to shame.”

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Need a hug? Why compassionate self talk works!

I have to admit, the first time I used compassionate self talk I was totally embarrassed and self-conscious. Even though I said it in my head I couldn’t help but feel silly. And then the strangest thing happened. I actually felt soothed, I felt understood and cared for. If you are anything like me you may think it is silly to comfort yourself as you would a friend in your own head but there is no doubt in my mind that it does indeed work, in fact, it’s very effective.

 

The next time you are feeling down, stressed anxious or are just going through a tough time try saying to yourself phrases like those you would say to a friend. I have listed some below to help you get started and give yourself that all important emotional hug!

 

“I know you are struggling right now but I want you to know you are loved and I care about you and I will support you through this”

 

“Trust me that even though it may not seem as if things will get better they will”

 

“You are a wonderfully strong person and your inner strength will get you through this”

 

“You have all the skills you need to become stronger and more resilient as a result of this experience”

 

“It’s ok that you’re feeling upset, confused, hurt, lonely… I am going to be here so you won’t have to go through this alone”

 

What soothing words would impact you the most when you are next feeling upset or hurt? Have you ever used compassionate self talk before? Are you planning to use it in future? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community.

How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Three

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

How to manage your inner critic when it arises…

 

Throughout all twenty-three episodes of the Self Acceptance Project I found Dr. Kristin Neff’s insight into self compassion both astounding and revelatory. But what strategies does she use when faced by her own inner critic? The simplicity of her answer was beautiful.

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part Two

 

Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture Courtesy of ShutterstocBuild confidence…

 

Build Confidence…

 

When we learn to accept all of our experiences in this way we build what Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, refers to as ‘unconditional confidence’. ‘Unconditional confidence’ is a principal which is well known in meditation and refers to the confidence we possess once we know that whatever experience we may face, we are able to manage it by fully being with it unconditionally.

 

This ‘unconditional confidence’ enables us to take risks in life and love because we know that whatever the outcome, we will be able to manage it. In all honesty I often fight and struggle against unpleasant and painful feelings (like I’m sure so many of us do) which is why I am so eager to practise being more aware of my pain, breathing into it and accepting it, thereby developing more ‘unconditional confidence’ – an asset which would be invaluable.

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How to Silence Your Inner Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend Through Self-Compassion Part One

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Picture Courtesy of Shutterstock

 

I have to say I am very blessed to have wonderful friends in my life. My friends are loyal, considerate, understanding and believe in me even when my own self-belief is lacking. They are kind and loving and extremely thoughtful.

 

Sadly though, the most important friendship I’ve ever had (and certainly the longest standing one) was both love and hate for way too long. Over the years this friendship has changed from being toxic to dysfunctional to much better but there is still work to be done before it becomes completely kind and nurturing. What’s most troubling however is that, unlike all of my other friendships, this one isn’t optional. Who is this friendship with you ask? Myself.

 

How sad it is that such an important relationship, the relationship we have with ourselves, is often so cruel and uncaring. And yet it is the most important friendship we will ever have. When we consider our best friends in life – the friends that are there for us no matter what – we take for granted how these close bonds developed.

 

We forget it took work and that we invested a great deal of time into forming those bonds. Bonds that were built on trust, loyalty, empathy, understanding and love. Why then do we not put that same amount of effort into the friendship we have with ourselves? Surely it is nonsensical to think that we can be our own best friend if we fail to invest the time and effort into fostering a healthy relationship with ourselves.

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