Self-compassion is a healthier coping skill we can use to replace our very harmful habits of self-judgment and self-deprecation. Being kind to ourselves, patient, understanding and forgiving with ourselves and our mistakes will yield far better results than beating ourselves up ever could.
When you mess up, as we often do, remind yourself that you are not the sum of your mistakes and wrongdoings. You are much more than that. You are a whole, complex, multifaceted being, with addiction being only one of your many parts. Don’t let your addiction, your mistakes or your relapses define you. Don’t revolve your identity around your addiction, or around your feelings of shame and disappointment. Remind yourself that you’re getting stronger every day, even when it doesn’t feel like it. You’re learning important, invaluable lessons. You’re receiving spiritual tests, some of which you’ll pass, and others of which you’ll continue to fail until you eventually pass them and learn what they were intending to teach you.
Self-compassion is not a habit many of us are accustomed to. It’s not something that comes easily or naturally to us. When we think of being compassionate and patient with ourselves, sometimes our instinct is to think that we’re being too easy on ourselves, that we’re letting ourselves get away with our mistakes, that we’re not being strict enough with ourselves. We’re used to judging ourselves and being judged by other people. We’re used to giving ourselves tough love and receiving it from others. The problem with tough love is that we are usually not being loving when we dole it out. We’re not supporting ourselves. We’re inundating ourselves with criticism, judgment and unkindness, thinking that we can scare ourselves straight. We assume that the harder we are on ourselves, the more likely we are to make the right choice the next time. Because we’re so accustomed to harsh judgment, that’s what we’re most familiar and comfortable with. That harshness, however, erodes our strength and resilience over time. It chips away at our willpower. This is because instead of building ourselves up, we’re knocking ourselves down, little by little. We’re actually sabotaging our success, not reinforcing it. We want to give ourselves the encouragement, support and upliftment we may have been missing all these years. We want to tell ourselves that we believe in ourselves, that we have faith in ourselves, that we know we can and will do even better next time. We want to remind ourselves that we are strong, capable, brave and resilient. We want to bolster our self-esteem and our sense of confidence with self-compassion, rather than eroding it with self-judgment.
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