Does self-compassion equal forgiveness of self?
(Originally written 2/21/17)
Started a new book this weekend, “Self-Compassion,” by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. The basic concept is having compassion for oneself and one’s faults and foibles the way we might have compassion for a friend during a rough time. We are often more critical of ourselves than we are of even strangers. A phrase in the book that says, “I love and accept myself exactly as I am today,” brought me back to my regular yoga practice. One of the first things the teacher says before class begins is a reminder to accept the bodies we have on this particular day and be mindful of what we can do with those bodies on this specific day. It might not be the same as the last time you were in the room. It might be better, it might be worse. Accept what it is today, and work with the body you have today.
Isn’t that the same as self-compassion? Accept the self you are today and do the best with the self you are on this specific day. It might not be the same self as yesterday; it might be a tired self or a stressed and overwhelmed self. All you can do is take a deep breath and work with what you have on this specific day.
It reminds me of my quest for self-forgiveness. To forgive myself, I must have compassion for myself. I have almost learned this via my regular yoga practice. Just like I have learned to work with the body I have each time I step onto my mat, I must learn to work with the self I have on each given day. And when I look back on mistakes and poor decisions, I must remind myself that I was a different self then. I did the best I could with the information I had, and the self I was. I cannot criticize myself through today’s lens. If I can be more compassionate to my former self, I think I can work towards forgiving myself.
It sounds so easy…