Hard on yourself sometimes?
It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all been our own toughest critic at various times. Whether it’s at work, a special project or creative endeavour, or how we interact with our children and partners, friends and relatives; there are times and situations in our lives when we aren’t proud of ourselves. Actually, sometimes we beat ourselves up harshly for messing things up. It’s a natural but really unhelpful pattern we can find ourselves in.
I remember as a teenager learning how to put myself down, because it was what all of my peers were doing at the time. Someone would pay someone else a compliment like, “You’re so great at that” or “You’re so smart” and the response was “No I’m not.” It was almost like a teenage fad we went through.
I wonder if you can relate? Yet fad or no fad, this pushing away of compliments has lasting effects on many of us that fall into the pattern of rejecting anything nice anyone has to say about us. The trouble with these repeated patterns as young minds develop, is that they have a tendency to stick. When I think about how I receive compliments now, there’s still, in my most vulnerable moments, a niggling voice inside that remembers that pattern and tries to win out.
Thankfully, I found the path of wellbeing and personal growth somewhere along the way. I’m so grateful to my earliest teachers in the ancient arts of tai chi and yoga in my late teens and twenties. The profound gifts I found in practising has kept me going back for more ever since.
But it hasn’t always been so easy to discover them. Packaged up in my early practice of yoga, was this idea I had that I needed to *work* really hard to become really disciplined and really flexible and strong. I took my yoga very seriously in my twenties. When I think back to these times, I now cringe at the way I held my postures with such a striving… for perfection. There were numerous occasions where I would leave my classes with my neck out of place and suffer for the next week for being so doggedly perfectionistic. It wasn’t until I found a more feminine and restorative style of yoga that things started to change for me.
Instead of fighting myself and striving for greater flexibility, more strength and perfection in my poses, I learnt how to surrender. The mindset shift in this was really big for me and there is one ingredient that was key: self compassion. Learning to be kind to myself and to surrender to wherever I found myself in my yoga that day or that night led to a profound shift in how I perceived myself as a person entirely.
What I didn’t know when I first started practising yoga is that loving is our true nature and although it may sound strange, it’s also a habit that we can form, or a muscle that we can build.
But not through effort or true grit or forcing.
So how do we achieve it?
In order to be compassionate, we must open and activate the heart and centre ourselves in loving kindness. We must surrender…. and treat ourselves as we would a newborn in our arms. By attuning to ourselves with curiosity. By listening within to what it is we really need. By gently nurturing ourselves into a sense of safety and trust….. in ourselves.
Our capacity for heart centred loving kindness and self compassion is a super power in and of itself! A strength that enables us to reach greater levels of true wellbeing and untapped potential. It quietens the inner critic and builds bridges between ourselves and our purpose/dreams/goals.
Mistakes and screw ups are welcome. And do-overs are absolutely embraced.
If you feel like you could use some support to open your heart to self compassion, please join us!
This Friday at the MYSHA HeARTSpace, 9.30-11.30am.
For bookings and enquiries please contact us.