There is a lot of talk from psychology books and professionals about self-compassion. Self compassion, the way I understand it means forgiving yourself for not being perfect and not having unfair expectations of yourself.
Maybe that’s not exactly what they mean, but I think that if you take the concept at face value, you will find it falls short. I find that even if I try to forgive myself for not being perfect, there is still an awareness of my flaws which diminishes my confidence and self esteem.
However, recently I have been thinking about another approach to this idea. What if I was so pleased with who I really am, that it doesn’t even matter that I’m not perfect? What If I deeply appreciated myself so much that I wouldn’t want to be any other way?
Now, when you read this you may be thinking this is unrealistic. Perhaps you think that in truth you would want to be like someone else, so better to forgive yourself for not being like them rather than lie to yourself and pretend you’re happy the way you are.
But let me ask you this question: if you really ponder who you really are deep inside. What truly makes you unique, what truly makes you ‘you’. The way you think, your unique perspective on things, the way you feel about things, would you really want to change that for anything in the world?
I think a lot of us don’t really know ourselves yet, so we find this difficult. But I truly believe that if we were to truly understand who we are, we would never trade it for anything. Not to be better looking, more confident, wealthier or more popular.
Think about the relationship between members of a family. I feel confident to say that if I would ask any member of a family if they could swap another member for a different person, or change a member of their family, they would without even thinking say no. Why? Because each member of the family values the others so much that even if they aren’t the best at this or that, it’s totally irrelevant. This doesn’t mean they don’t fight and have issues, but they have a deep appreciation for each other.
I really believe that this is the true foundation of self esteem. If you could appreciate that you are totally unique and that there is no one like you and that you have something special inside you which no one else has, it wouldn’t matter that you’re not the best looking or lacking other things which people seem to praise. You wouldn’t care because you have something so much more valuable than all of that.
So now let’s ask another question; how do I find and understand that deep, unique part of myself which will enable me to truly appreciate who I am? First of all, it requires a whole shift in perspective which may require time. If you’ve seen the movie Inception, you’ll know that they speak about ideas as being seeds which get planted into our mind and take time to develop. Even though it’s just a movie I think this concept is true.
That being said, how can we plant this idea into our minds that it might grow and eventually bring us to a full realization of how great we truly are?
1) Think about the things you’re really good at. They will reflect your innate talents and abilities.
2) Think about the things that inspire/motivate you. They will reflect your inner values and what you find meaningful.
3 Ask those close to you what they think makes you special or unique. Often hearing it from others helps us see things we couldn’t and really penetrates deep into the self.
Think about these things. Think about them again. Reflect on them. Expand on them. Allow them to grow in your find. Nurture them until they begin to reveal the uniquest and desirable parts of who you are.
The point I’m trying to get across is that no matter how much compassion and forgiveness you have for yourself, if you don’t truly appreciate and value who you are you will always have low self esteem.
Perhaps feelings of low self esteem is our deeper self calling on us to search for and find the inner beauty in who we actually are.