I’ve written and thought a lot lately about compassion. How doctors lack it, how people need to be more compassionate towards the chronically ill, how we need to be more compassionate. But, I was reading this article on ZenHabits and it struck me that the place we lack compassion the most is towards ourselves.
‘So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Compassion starts with truly listening. How often do we tune out our own needs and instead of really listening to our bodies and our minds we try to shut them off. Why is it easier to look at someone else who is ill and be compassionate towards their needs but we can’t and often refuse to do it for ourselves? Why is it that when we are recovering and we know we can’t do certain things we try to do them anyway? Why do we feel like everything has to be done right now? When others ask us for help we will gladly give it and know we are doing a kindness. Why do we refuse to allow others to return the favor? Why do we refuse to even offer ourselves the compassion of asking someone else for help?
Why are we so mean to ourselves? In his article, Leo opens with the above quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, and then goes on to say:
While the idea of being more compassionate is appealing to many people, what stands in the way is that we get irritated by other people, often actually strongly disliking them.
How can you be compassionate with others when they irritate you, rub you the wrong way, make you angry?
How often do we sit irritated and angry at ourselves for all the things we “should” or “need to” be doing? I know I do it quite a bit. It’s been a major (if not THE major) thing Iam working on with my psychologist. Focusing on those things and beating ourselves up about them is a huge disservice and it’s downright mean. It is no different from physically beating ourselves up, and the damage goes far deeper and lasts longer. We would NEVER let someone else get away with treating us the way that we treat ourselves.
I’ve been working very hard on being kinder to myself. Instead of allowing myself to get focused on what I should do or haven’t done. I stop and remind myself that there’s a reason and that I was doing something more important. I was taking care of me. All the things that really NEED to get done will get done. If they don’t, they weren’t really that important. I don’t have to do it all. Let others help, and don’t feel bad when I choose to take a day off and just have a Netflix marathon. It’s ok. Remember that quote with started with? “By listening with calm and understanding we can ease the suffering of another person.” By listening to our bodies and our minds with calm and understanding we can ease our own suffering.
I found this post-it on the hand soap dispenser in the ladies room at school last year. I have no idea who put it there, but it made me smile.
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