We are often good at treating others with compassion, but not so good at treating ourselves as kindly. I often ask clients whom I feel have been judging themselves harshly if the same rules apply to their spouses, children, friends, etc. The answer is almost uniformly “No!” What is up with that?
We all grow up in families with rules about how to behave and what makes a good human. We absorb these rules through a child’s lens, which means that we often have an incomplete understanding and that we see the issue black and white. In our family, the love may have been conditional. We may have felt that the only way to ensure that we would continue to be loved was to “be good.” In other words, to follow the rules to the letter. We then take that incomplete understanding and apply it to ourselves as adults.
But what is interesting is that we can see how unfair the rules are when we apply them to others. For instance, “I must always be perfect and never make a mistake in any area of my life to be a good person.” I then ask if that same rule applies to their friends, that the only way that their friends would be considered good people is to be totally perfect all the time. The look that I get back is priceless. “No, that is ridiculous!” So, I wonder, what is the difference between them and you? This usually stumps my clients. There is no difference.
Treat yourself with compassion. Have the same rules for yourself as you have for your loved ones. Be gentle to all.