Do you sometimes find it hard to find a balance in life?

I’m not talking about work life balance this time, but about the sweet balance of pushing yourself to achieve something and cutting yourself some slack, allow yourself to be lazy and get some rest.

I have always been quite capable of pushing myself. When I wanted to reach some goal, I would make a plan, set up some systems and push forward.

At certain points in my life however, I have experienced a certain lethargy: moments where all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, watch The Good Wife and eat cookies.

So how do you find the balance between those two extremes, between running and pushing forward and resting and being lazy?

This is where self-compassion comes in.

Self-compassion did not come naturally to me. I grew up in a family of pushers where moaning was frowned upon (cause you had to push through and move on) and self-compassion was seen as selfish, lazy and weak.

No wonder then, that any self-care I allowed myself was always colored with some sort of guilt.

  • Resting? You are lazy!
  • Massage? Why not spend the money on something more useful.
  • Saying no to requests for your time? You are not being helpful.

So what exactly is self-compassion?

Dr Kristin Neff has defined three elements that make up self-compassion:

  1. Self Kindness vs self-judgment: being kind and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate instead of being critical and harsh.
  2. Common humanity vs. isolation: being human means being mortal, vulnerable and imperfect. You are not alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs. over-identification: awareness and acceptance of our experiences in a non-judgmental way

It took me quite some time and work to get past the guilt and create a balance between pushing to reach my goals and self-care.

I re-defined self-compassion for myself and now see it as ‘living according to my values’.

Self-compassion is not letting yourself off the hook, or having no discipline.

Letting yourself off the hook involves short-term thinking: I don’t feel like running, so I’ll stop doing it.

Self-compassion, on the other hand, is about the benefits in the long term: this may feel unpleasant now, but I will feel great afterwards and will get fitter/happier/healthier in the long run

So now, when life gets busy, when I feel overwhelmed, or things seem out of tune, I check in with myself and usually it’s because I have let situations, people or projects into my life that are not in line with my values. I practice self-compassion (because I am human), and decide what I need to change or let go in order to align things again.

If you too want to live a more self-compassionate life along the lines of your values, why not start with a vision board

ADDITIONAL READING

The happiness trap

In order to practice self compassion, you can go here to find some exercises

Instead of making resolutions, why not pick a word of the year