“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be”.
– Kristen Neff
That self-critical voice has such authority, doesn’t it? We think “if I just strive to be the person it tells me I should be, then one day I’ll be OK”.
But that day will never come.
The day will never come when that negative voice in our head says “well done, you’re worthy, now you deserve to look after yourself”. Its sole motivation is to make us feel not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not successful enough, not enough, not enough, not enough…
As Kristen Neff says, we believe being hard on ourselves keeps us in line.
In reality, it keeps us in shame.
It keeps us stuck.
Our inner bullies don’t want us to have compassion for ourselves. They don’t want us to have a peaceful relationship with food. They don’t want us to look after ourselves physically and emotionally.
Why listen to someone who doesn’t have our best interests at heart?
We can hold ourselves accountable without putting ourselves down. We can take personal responsibility without shaming ourselves. We can find motivation without tormenting ourselves.
If we want life to be better, we need self-care not self-hatred. We need to listen to the voice that says self-compassion isn’t self-indulgent, it’s survival.
But it’s hard, you might say, that critical voice has always been there.
What could be harder than surrendering to it? Surely, life is so very much harder when we’re mired in shame, worthlessness and self-loathing?
By contrast, life is so much better when we find the inner strength to answer back to the critical voice within; when we choose to defend ourselves; when we decide to say “Enough! No more. You have nothing to offer me. I refuse to listen to you”.
Then we can unlock the door to self-compassion, self-care and the relationship with ourselves we long for and deserve.