Sunday, August 31, 2008

Enemy in Disguise

I have noticed that some of the most caring, compassionate and loving people I know can often be extremely hard on themselves. It seems the standard to meet, when evaluating their own performance in life, is extremely high. No mistakes are allowed. They do not feel any understanding in regard to themselves if they are experiencing a challenge in life. They are impatient, unforgiving and down right judgmental. They won't allow themselves to share their feelings with others. They resist support. They see themselves as failures and undeserving of love.

Now this just doesn't make sense to me. If we all have the ability to be compassionate, loving, understanding, forgiving, caring and non judgmental of others, why not for ourselves? Why don't we see ourselves as deserving the same unconditional caring support that we give to our friends, family and clients? Surely, we need not be punished for our humanity when we can forgive others for theirs.

This tendency to self evaluate so harshly is like having an enemy within. The enemy is well disguised, for outwardly we are seen as compassionate and understanding beings. It is the inner battles being fought hidden in our own minds, where no one can see, that can cause our deepest wounds. Ironically, we are also the ones that can stop the internal battering and allow healing to take place.

We can make this shift from being impatient and judgmental of ourselves to being understanding and compassionate by first noticing when we are playing the role of our own enemy. So often the self-deprecating internal battle is seen as normal, so we let it continue. It can be the default place to respond to ourselves when things aren't going the way we want them to in our lives.

The good news is we can train ourselves to shift from impatience to patience, from disgust to love, and judgment to compassion when we think about how we would be responding to someone else in that moment in the same circumstance.

With some practice, we can soon be as spacious, compassionate and loving with ourselves as we are with others.

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