Accepting oneself with all your flaws is part of being mentally healthy. However, often survivors are their own worst critics picking themselves apart and holding themselves back from experiencing life to the fullest.
This article will focus on self-compassion and how to become more self-accepting.
A Refresher: What is Self-Compassion?
According to the website self-compassion.org written by Dr. Kristin Neff, “Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself as you would your best friend. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop telling yourself, ‘this is difficult right now,’ how can I comfort and care for myself?”
Let’s unpack that definition.
First, how often have you oppressed yourself when you failed or saw something you didn’t like in yourself? Instead of hating yourself or treating yourself with disdain, self-compassion occurs when you give yourself room to fail.
It is crucial to understand that everyone has days when they are not working on all thrusters. Indeed, there are some days when most people would love to start over or avoid the day altogether.
The difference is that people who are self-critical harp on their problems, brooding on them as failures of their character, and those who are accepting of themselves do not.
Ignoring the pain of what has happened to you only makes matters worse. Instead, try allowing yourself to heal by admitting you are having a difficult time.
Where Does Self-Compassion Originate?
Self-compassion has its origins in childhood when we felt accepted by our parents. Research has shown that we cannot formulate a clear sense of self before eight. That leaves us utterly dependent on caretakers to show us how to behave toward ourselves.
If caregivers are unwilling or unable to send us the correct messages that their children are acceptable, the kids will become ambivalent toward themselves. Otherwise stated, the positive or negative regard children are shown by their parents is often based on how they behave. The adults teach their kids that because they don’t always behave well, they are unacceptable as people.
As adults, these children grow up showing the following symptoms or signs.
- They are highly critical of themselves
- Downplay their positive qualities and successes
- Think they are inferior
- Conduct negative self-talk
- Avoid crediting themselves for their achievements
- Take the blame for things that go wrong
- Feel out of control
- Cannot receive or believe compliments given to them
If you feel and think like the list above, you will probably not show yourself the compassion you deserve.
The Vital Step of Becoming More Self-Accepting
To learn to be self-compassionate, it is critical to work on accepting yourself just as you are today. Low self-acceptance is either the result of or cause of mental health issues. Therefore, learning to accept yourself is vital.
Self-acceptance means you are at peace with both your accomplishments and your failures. Having self-accepted, you will realize that being down on yourself slows your life because you cannot look at the bigger picture of where your life is going and that you have had control all along.
Accepting yourself completely is challenging because you usually are critical of yourself when you make a mistake. You judge yourself by your mistakes instead of your accomplishments. It is like blinders are on your eyes that only allows you to see your failures. As a result, you become too cautious, so you don’t make the same mistake twice.
The thought process that you will be super-cautious as the result of a failure is highly detrimental if you are a person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. You may have had a bad relationship with someone, and now you are terrified you will make the same mistake twice instead of taking what you learned from the experience and choosing better next time.
You might even consider yourself one giant mistake because of what you learned growing up. This is not true. There is nothing of a mistake about you; you belong in the world. Never forget that.
Some Myths of Self-Compassion
As with any other psychological phenomenon, there are many myths surrounding self-compassion.
According to Dr. Kristen Neff, the number one myth about self-compassion is that it is the same as self-pity. However, many people get it wrong because self-compassion is the cure for self-pity. Self-compassion makes you willing to experience and relate to your difficult feelings with kindness.
The second myth about self-compassion is that showing it to oneself exhibits weakness. This myth is especially prominent among men, but women also suffer from it. There is nothing weak about showing oneself the compassion, dignity, and respect you deserve. In fact, it is a healthy mindset to have. Indeed, research demonstrates that self-compassion is a powerful source of resilience and coping one can have when one goes through a significant life crisis.
Lastly, you may believe that self-compassion will undermine your helping yourself do better than before. Some believe that a dose of self-criticism will cause you to fail to meet up to the standards you have set for yourself. This message is easily attributed to how some parents motivate their children. Research clearly shows that treating oneself with self-compassion vastly improves one’s ability to meet goals and succeed.
Treating oneself with self-compassion, i.e., self-love, is not only valuable but life-changing.
Exercises to Grow Self-Compassion
You may be wondering by now how to grow in self-acceptance and self-love. The following are tips to aid you in healing your self-compassion deficit.
Become more self-aware. When you have feelings or pain that are controlling your thoughts, do not push them away. Instead, welcome them and then separate yourself from them. Setting your sights on being willing to accept your thoughts and feelings allows you to move toward acceptance of yourself, and thus you will show yourself more self-compassion.
Separating yourself from your feelings and thoughts allows you to examine them more clearly and change your behavior toward yourself.
Learn to celebrate your strengths. When thinking about yourself, ask yourself the following questions:
On what things are people always complimenting you?
What are your talents and good traits?
What accomplishments have you achieved?
Using these questions, you can list your strengths and achievements and then read them often to help you cope when things go south for you. Keep the list handy for when you experience a low point in your life and re-read them over and over to help your brain learn to react positively to the event.
Ending Our Time Together
It isn’t easy, as a survivor, to learn to accept and love yourself. Those old tapes from the past keep playing in your mind telling you that you are worthless, a waste of space, and a failure. However, it can be done with persistence and self-care.
Keep in mind that everyone deserves compassion, including you.
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Kristin Neff
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself. May I give myself the compassion I need.“ – Kristen Neff
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield
UK Recovery Support
Are you a therapist who treats CPTSD? Please consider dropping us a line to add you to our growing list of providers. You would get aid in finding clients and help someone find the peace they deserve. Go to the contact us page and send a note; our staff will respond quickly.
Shortly, CPTSD Foundation will have compiled a list of providers treating complex post-traumatic stress disorder. When it becomes available, we will put it on our website www.CPTSDFoundation.org.
Visit us and sign up for our weekly newsletter to help inform you about treatment options and much more for complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Healing Book Club
As of May 7th, 2022, the current book will be – “A Practical Guide to Complex PTSD: Compassionate Strategies to Begin Healing from Childhood Trauma.”
by Dr. Arielle Schwartz.
Here is an Excerpt –
Repetitive trauma during childhood can impact your emotional development, creating a ripple effect that carries into adulthood. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a physical and psychological response to these repeated traumatic events. A Practical Guide to Complex PTSD contains research-based strategies, tools, and support for individuals working to heal from their childhood trauma. You don’t have to be a prisoner of your past.
Learn the skills necessary to improve your physical and mental health with practical strategies taken from the most effective therapeutic methods, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization, and reprocessing (EMDR), and somatic psychology. When appropriately addressed, the wounds of your past no longer need to interfere with your ability to live a meaningful and satisfying life.
This book includes:
- Understand C-PTSD—Get an in-depth explanation of complex PTSD, including its symptoms, its treatment through various therapies, and more.
- Address the symptoms—Discover evidence-based strategies for healing the symptoms of complex PTSD, like avoidance, depression, emotional dysregulation, and hopelessness.
- Real stories—Relate to others’ experiences with complex PTSD with multiple real-life examples in each chapter.
Start letting go of the pain from your past—A Practical Guide to Complex PTSD can help show you how.
If you or a loved one live in the despair and isolation of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please come to us for help. CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services, including:
- Daily Calls
- The Healing Book Club
- Support Groups
- Our Blog
- The Trauma-Informed Newsletter
- Daily Encouragement Texts
All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, sign-up to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it; we will be glad to help you. If you cannot afford to pay, go to www.cptsdfoundation.org/scholarship to apply for aid. We only wish to serve you.
Mindfulness, Prayer, and Meditation Circle
Meditation can be an integral part of healing from trauma. Our 9-week self-study video course helps you integrate this fantastic grounding, centering, and focus method. Join the Mindfulness, Prayer, and Meditation Circle today!
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My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.