The Frustratingly Difficult Act Of Self-Compassion

I’ve always been an active person. You could say I get very anxious if I’m not doing anything. Resting, or even having some “me” time with a good book or a movie sometimes triggers a profound feeling of unworthiness and laziness. I chastise myself for not doing more, being more. I know these thoughts have resided within me since childhood. I’ve really tried to work on being less demanding and more forgiving to myself. But I think the inner me will always be this slightly insecure little girl who wants to be accepted (by myself) and be “enough” but still never feels like it. It’s weird I’m only this demanding towards myself. The standards I set to reach to are completely off the scale compared to what I expect from other people.

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Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. If not for my A-type personality, competitiveness and constant thrive to be better, I’d never have crossed the numerous obstacles I’ve faced in life. I have the fire within me to prove all naysayers wrong and be stronger every day.

But would it really make me a weaker person if I, facing a failure or a difficult time, would mentally gave the little Veera a hug and said: “You’re good enough. You’re doing great.” Instead I usually go for: “You lazy-ass slacker. Yeah, you may have fever or a scheduled rest day but that’s no excuse for not doing the laundry, prepping next week’s meals, and reading some fascinatingly dry medical journal instead of larger-than-life-toe-tingling scifi-opera.”

We all need some loving kindness and acceptance in our lives. But it starts within ourselves. I have to believe I am a worthy, capable person. The validation from outside sources – other people’s praises, wealth, social status – won’t matter if we can’t find the ability to love and accept ourselves the way we are. I sometimes fear I will always be slightly hollow inside – always lacking some intangible piece of achievement that stops me from being “good” and “enough”.

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Hopefully I’m not completely a lost case. Yesterday I was dead tired after traveling, attending lectures and giving my own. I’ve been pushing myself these past few weeks with hydro, caffeine and pure stubbornness. After taking a long nap, I did manage to go and squat yesterday evening, but I settled for smaller weights, left at least a few reps in the tank with every set and cut the workout short with only back squats, overhead squats and some hamstring work. And didn’t chastise myself for it. On the contrary, I congratulated myself for being able to read my body’s needs and do the workout but not overdo it. I really needed some physical exercise after sitting all the week in buses, trains, lecture halls and seminar rooms.

I can tell I’m pretty exhausted both mentally and physically as I’m actually cringing at the idea of going to the gym today. Or even walking. Or stretching. Or doing absolutely anything worthwhile. Maybe today I’ll simply lie on the sofa watching Netflix. Tomorrow will be a new day with new opportunities to overachieve :).

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5 thoughts on “The Frustratingly Difficult Act Of Self-Compassion

  1. Often I feel like this. If there is nothing to do or I am alone, even when I am in pain or sick or just exhausted, I need to being doing something for SOMEONE or for the house because if not….Then I am slacking on everything. I often get told I push myself too hard and that I need to find my red line not to go above, but then I beat myself for it afterwards and that red line is gone.

    All those that preach self-love though, how many of them actually take five minutes a day to breathe? I really want to know. That’s what my therapist wants from me. Take five minutes just for me and breathe.

    I told her I don’t have five minutes…guess I should be breathing rather than checking my blog emails. once again…not wanting to let anyone down.

    I love reading your thoughts


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I sometimes feel like this, too. For me, it’s largely about leaving a legacy. I want to leave a positive impact on this world to some degree and to enable and/or encourage others to do the same. So then, my leisure from that plan seems like a deviation, almost a sin… like my abilities are being under-utilized, and I should be chastised.

    But then, sometimes at least, I remember the wisdom I’ve found in reading about the lives of people who I admire who said they specifically scheduled in rest. They knew relaxation was necessary and purposeful. They said that often-times, their best ideas came when their mind was at ease, like just enjoying the sunrise with a cup of coffee. These ideas are invaluable and generally difficult to generate when you’re constantly focused on the pedestrian tasks of the day.

    Also of note, I studied under an exercise scientist who trained Olympic athletes. He said that the Olympic athletes who win aren’t intrinsically the strongest or most genetically gifted. The ones who win, he said, are the ones who avoid major injuries. This allows them to avoid major setbacks. These ones know how to relax and take things easy when they know their body or mind isn’t ready for more. They have extraordinary work ethics, but they also know when to sit back and coast for a short time.

    That stuck with me. Hopefully it’s at least semi-meaningful to you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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