Compassion is the ability to show empathy to others, to not judge them and to support them in a way that works for them. But compassion always starts with ourselves. It starts with accepting and being kind to who we are, before we are able to do that to others.
We all have an internal negative talk about what we can and can’t do, what we should and shouldn’t do. When things get hard, we tend to doubt our skills and abilities, sometimes even our intelligence. We are too harsh on ourselves and we spend more time thinking about our failures than actually moving forward. We never win when we compare ourselves to people who are more successful, more experienced, more beautiful. There will always be people ahead of us, especially if we are only at the beginning of our journey.
To be more compassionate with yourself is to let go of all that. Focus inwardly on what you can do and how you can get better, not because someone else is doing it, but because you know it’s the right thing to do.
Don’t be harsh on yourself. Do not judge yourself. Don’t fight with yourself. Don’t aim for perfection. Forgive yourself.
You are where you are because of the actions you took in the past. If you want to be at another place in the future, do a few things accordingly. Don’t overthink, simply do things and learn from them. One step at a time.
Read more: The Do Something Principle
Compassion to others
Nobody likes to be judged, yet we often judge others. We judge others who are different to exclude them and reinforce our way of being or doing as the right one. We judge others who are more successful to downplay their achievements and feel better about ourselves. We judge others because we know we are being judged.
You can break this cycle by freeing yourself from unnecessary judgement. How? Let go of the expectations you have of others. Next time you see someone and you feel judgemental towards them, ask yourself what’s the good in judging them: will it help them change? A way to know if it will or not is to simply imagine sharing with that person what you think of them: what would be their reaction? Angry? Upset? Dismissive? If it’s not positive, it’s a judgement worth discarding.
Another very important reason to show compassion towards others is that very often, you will not know their story. And their story matters, because it will impact what they do or what they say. If you think someone is being a big harsh, it could be because they just got a bad news and are a bit sensitive. When you let go of perfection for yourself, you also stop expecting others to be perfect and you accept when they show vulnerability.
Something that has helped me a lot to remove judgement is to always assume positive intent: everyone wants to have a good life and they’re doing the best they can, and most people will have good intentions. People who don’t are not worth your time and energy anyway.
Compassion is something you can nurture. Start by simply noticing your judgements, then look at what caused them. Why are you judging people on it? How is it serving you? And when you are done exploring the root of it, let them go?