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.

~Gautama Buddha

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.

~Pema Chödrön

44 thoughts on “Compassion”

  1. Sometimes I think that people are more compassionate on themselves than they are to others. I personally think that I am more critical of myself than others, but then a the same time I don’t like the idea of others criticizing me.

    1. Those who find excuses for themselves at the drop of a hat and justify their failures are not the kind of people who live mindful, deliberate lives. Most wouldn’t have a North Star. I am not really concerned with them.

      It is the other kind, the ones who are quick to examine themselves for possible faults, that need to let themselves off at times. 🙂

  2. I think we let ourselves off the hook pretty easily while we remember others’ mistakes far too long. But yes, there are times when we are overtly critical of our own selves. Either way, compassion needs to flow out of our hearts. Beautiful post ma’m 🙂

  3. It is surprisingly & to some extent commonly true that we don’t treat ourselves with compassion!! I relate this post to so many things happening around relationships in real life. I usually let go of other’s mistake too easily and give myself a hard time. And yes, I must show more courage to be compassionate to myself as well..

    Well written post Dagny!!!

    1. Thank you Hemant. I wrote this post primarily as a reminder to myself. Whenever anything goes wrong, my first impulse is to chastise myself. Even when it isn’t my fault at all. Not a good thing… 🙂

      Thank you for coming over. 🙂

  4. A profound post, Dagny. I guess we need to draw the line between going too easy on ourselves and being extremely self-crtitical. Putting aside our needs for others is what has been drilled into us since childhood days. We need to ‘sacrifice’! If we are also not there for ourselves and others anyway won’t be, then what are we to do. It is an arduous but necessary journey to unlearn that we need to put others first. How can we save others if we ourselves are in deep trouble!

  5. Yes Dagny. Why do we do that? I find myself correcting myself when I am too harsh on myself. The guilt part of enjoying things I do is almost gone now :-D. But self compassion completely is still a challenge. I am pretty compassionate towards others though. Food for thought certainly.

    1. As Prathima has said, we do it because we’re taught that:
      1. Self- sacrifice is a virtue.
      2. If you ever think about yourself you are pure evil.

      The more limitless and intrusive it is, the bigger is it’s virtue quotient. And the less you consider yourself the bigger your halo. Sort of like a double whammy.
      At least, that’s all that occurs to me. You have any other reasons?

      1. No, incidentally these reasons do not apply to me. The only thing I think of is that somehow I have very high standards in place for me. But when I introspect, I am quick to be a little less harsh. I also believe that self compassion must not touch the other extreme, so yes it is a fine balance (in my understanding).

        1. For me it is the ‘the sin of considering your own wishes as important’ thing. Wins hands down! 🙂 Talk about faulty programming. 🙂

  6. I agree Dagny. Self compassion is tough to practice. It is not imbibed, atleast it was not for me but I also think that with a certain age and experience you learn more about yourself and hence it becomes easier to forgive your own mistakes. I am older and wiser now and I love ME. ME is awesome 😀

  7. Many of us yo yo between being compassionate about ourselves. Self doubt creeps in somewhere. Guess it is more situational based. I love the quote by Pema Chodron.

  8. In my experience I have found majority of people are not so aware of their own selves, nor pause to analyse their actions/reactions to understand them better. So at times you see misguided compassion for self and at other times none at all.

  9. Yes like Hrishikesh said sometimes ppl r too compassionate with them selves and less empathetic with others. This is a tough scenario too 🙁 but today I was gettign soaked in this post !
    Much needed one.
    Thanks ! SELF compassion and forgiving one self is needed. Being hard on your self will lead to no good

  10. I used to be really hard on myself until I realized that I would have NO friends if I spike to others the way I spoke to myself. Since then, i’ve made a conscious effort to be kind to myself.

  11. oh how I love this post. I am working on personal growth this year and compassion for myself is something I have a lot of trouble with. I look forward to reading more of your series! (visiting from the A to Z challenge)

    1. I look forward to your visits too Heather. I’ve read your B post. Will catch up again tomorrow. Thanks for coming over 🙂

  12. Loved this thought ‘If you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself, how long would they remain your friend? ‘ Sometimes we need to love ourselves a bit and a moment of feeling loved gets created. Just enought to spread the love. Profound thoughts…..

    1. Sometimes we need to love ourselves a bit and a moment of feeling loved gets created. Just enough to spread the love.

      What a wonderful thought Rubina! And the best part is, it is so doable!
      Thank you so much for your visit and for the insightful comment. I feel replete! 🙂

  13. I wish more people were compassionate. I see so many people talking about it all the time and never really displaying it. Nice write up.

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