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The Power of Compassion


What does it mean to be a good friend? What would that feel like? How beneficial self-compassion can become.

I used to be so hard on myself for the mistakes I made. I lamented about how my life turned out, and what I could have done to move forward. I grieved and longed for the chance to do things over again. I lived so many years thinking only if I did this or that, my pain of losses would have been lessened. If only amends had been made earlier, lessening my pain. I used to beat myself up for my failings. Beating myself up was only making me depressed. My seIf-condemnation was a constant companion. And I certainly was not feeling good about myself. I felt woefully inadequate. Every day I told myself I was not good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough, or I didn’t have as much money in the bank as those who were successful. I needed to find a way to get passed all the sadness and see beyond all my troubles, past my pain, and everything I had lost.

I tried a lot of things like meditation, CBT in therapy, and read lots of self-help books to work through my feelings of shame and failure. I just wasn’t able to shake these feelings ... something was missing. My continual self-judgment was harming me.

One day I said to myself, “I wish I had a friend like me.” I thought about that statement and realized what a good friend I am to others, if only I could be that good of a friend to myself. I stumbled upon the idea of giving myself compassion. I would talk to myself as if I were talking to a good friend. Like a good friend, I would be accepting, kind, caring, and supportive of myself instead of being critical and judgmental like I used to be. I even came across a book about self-compassion. I started to apply the principles and it changed my life.

I learned that compassion involves feelings of kindness for people who are suffering and therefore the desire to help emerges. It recognizes our shared human condition, flawed and fragile as it is. Self-compassion recognizes our own suffering, and then giving ourselves compassion in the moment we need it. Everyone is worthy of compassion. Being human on this earth means we are intrinsically valuable and deserving of care.

I no longer sit in self-judgment any more. I can accept my mistakes and do what I can to fix them. I realize that I am human and I will make mistakes. It is part of the human condition. What I can do is to forgive myself when I stumble and fall. When I fill my heart with compassion, I am able to forgive myself and others.

I realized that self-compassion is actually giving myself unconditional kindness and comfort. I give myself the supportive care I desperately need on a bad day. Instead of feeling the knot of self-judgment, I feel peaceful and a connected acceptance. It allows me to open my heart to myself and to others. And the more compassion I have for myself, the more I have for others.

Self-compassion does not negate my pain or negative experiences, but it embraces them with the kindness and the support I would give my best friend. It provides a calm in the storms of life. It has given me emotional resilience and a sense of well-being.

Joie Foster is a lifestyle writer living in Montana. She is an INFJ and coffee shop junkie. She uses words as a way to express herself, always trying to make a difference.

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