Stop punching yourself (or how to practice self-compassion)

About 2 minutes to read

Think back 10 years to who you were then. Who you self-identified as. Are you inwardly laughing at how embarrassing you find the previous you, proud of how far you’ve come or shocked at the change?

That’s because our identities are never fixed.

I’ve recently realised something about myself. I really like stuff. Physical things; possessions. I like clothes, kitchenalia, gadgets, photos, financial security and good food. I like them all because they help me live a fulfilling and fun life.

But that’s a problem when you self-identify as a minimalist, or anything for that matter, it can form such a strong part of our identities that if I say I’m one thing, then I do the opposite – what am I? A hypocrite surely?

Yes. And so are you. I think you’d be incredibly hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t a hypocrite, who hasn’t gone against their word, or changed their mind. That’s not to excuse our actions but help us become aware of them.

When we don’t live up to our expectations, it can cost us. We can beat ourselves up, feel sorry for ourselves or play the martyr. This pain and suffering comes from the dichotomy between who we think we were, who we aspire to be and who we are in the moment.

Learning to let go is a crucial element of self-compassion. If we don’t constantly let go of our past errors, follies, embarrassing moments and repeated mistakes we rob ourselves of the chance to grow.

To constantly revise, reconsider a problem you thought you’d already solved by being open to new points of view, new ideas and contradictions; to be able to admit you were wrong and change your mind is a valuable trait. We’ll never have it figured out. Because even when we think we do, someone moves the goal posts.

Life is catharsis. We have to constantly let go of the previous moment and our desire to control the next one to simply be in the present moment.

“The real violence, the violence I realised was unforgivable, is the violence we do to ourselves, when we’re too afraid to be who we really are.” – Sense8