All spiritual disciplines advocate compassion.
Practicing compassion is an act of courage. Specially when your compassion needs to be directed to yourself. It is difficult enough to direct its flow outward, but to direct it inward is a precipitous run for most of us. To demonstrate that courage or not, is a choice.
All the masters who have ever walked the earth have urged us to Love others as you love yourself. To love another as yourself you must first love yourself. This has been said many times and by better pens than mine. I say it again because while we’ve all heard it and read it over and over, we are yet to practice it.
Awakening self-compassion is often the greatest challenge people face on the spiritual path.
~ Tara Brach
How patient are you with yourself when you make mistakes? Do you find ways to excuse your less than perfect efforts as easily and quickly as you find to excuse others? Are you as eager to let yourself off the hook as you are to let others off? When you see yourself fail, lose focus or procrastinate, do you treat yourself gently? When you are tired and exhausted, when you are out of sorts and irritable, do you ever soothe yourself? Is your own pain ever important to you or do you brush it away impatiently and tell yourself to grow up and stop being a bloody cry baby?
If you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself, how long would they remain your friend? The often brutal disregard with which you deal with your own low moments, if you were to extend to others, will you ever win any friends? How would it go for you if you let others feel the lash of your acerbic tongue the way you let lose at yourself? Take a wild guess…
It takes courage to be compassionate to yourself. It doesn’t come naturally or spontaneously. What comes naturally is criticism and being judgmental. A chronic habit is self flagellation is a learned behavior. It is time to unlearn it and to replace it with the better habit of self- celebration. If it is good to feel love, respect or compassion for others, why is it not good to feel it for yourself?
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
The success of your journey to your North Star depends on your ability to nurture yourself when you fall down. Carrot- and- stick was a faulty premise. It doesn’t work at all. And a method which is stick- and- bigger-stick will definitely not work.
If you had a boss who was always on your case, just waiting to pounce on you and castigate you for the smallest mistakes, would you not dream of sticking a six inch blade between his shoulder blades? How do you think your inner being feels?
Will today be the day when you will have the courage to be compassionate to yourself?
The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.