AND LETTING GO OF THE GREAT BURDEN
We "derived", with the help of others who believed such, the conclusion that we must meet some fictional standard or there will be hell to pay, in some vague unstated way. The conclusion and the conclusions it leads to are absolutely absurd. And when a human being can finally see that fact, a great burden of negativity about one's self will be lifted - and then true higher happiness becomes possible for the first time.
This is an understanding you absolutely MUST spend the effort to attain as it will have one of the biggest, and maybe the biggest, payoff of anything you can do.
Indeed, it is absurd to think that you "do not like yourself", for your whole aim in life is to take care of your survival and well-being - it is in your genes. (See Self Hate - Oh, Really?) You just need to see what is true, give yourself understanding, drop the self criticism viewpoint - and you'll have the ultimate love affair for a lifetime!
WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?
To treat ourselve with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show to a good friend.." Kristin Neff
Self compassion has us put our imperfections and suffering in the context of simply being human.
But it requires more than just the intent to be kind to oneself and the understanding that we are just human, it requires seeing life in reality, without the added false meanings and fears and believed woes. It requires understanding that is deep and pervasive and "top of the mind".
It is good to realize that setbacks are just part of being human, but such realizations serve only to lessen the self-criticism (which of course is a good thing to do).
But to have the willingness to be self-compassionate (kind and understanding), we need to remove all the false beliefs that cause us to live in blame, shame, fault, and self-criticism, which all reinforce each other in a downward vicious cycle.
Essentially to have self-compassion, we need to remove all that is opposite to it and to remove all the barriers to it. If you don't do this, you'll be stuck, again, in limbo and in failing to be able to be self-compassionate. This time, you need to finish the necessary process - and then you will be self compassionate and non-critical of yourself.
We also need to address that which feeds compassion or the opposite. Since the reality of us being human is that we will not be perfect at being compassionate when influenced by circumstances to be otherwise. If I feel unsafe, I do not have the strength nor the perspective to rise above it all to give myself that understanding I need to give myself. If I do not have enough confidence that I can handle life, then I need to develop sufficient competence to not feel as if I am a victim of life or subjects to threats that I can't handle - otherwise I will not be able to rise up to the higher perspective and non-fear that is needed to be able to give myself compassion.
So, there is no quick fix to all of a sudden be self compassionate. But there is a path which sets up a virtuous (good, upward reinforcing) cycle, with defined steps to be taken - and the steps are very doable and not obscure. Many people have done them and therefore you can do them if given sufficient information to do so. (See Anyone Can Learn - Don't Ever Doubt It!.)
THE OLD SYSTEM DOESN'T WORK! IT'S ABSURD!
You cannot possibly be happy if you keep the old system. We can argue about how it came about and why we bought into it, but surely we cannot factually and rationally justify it. In fact, when we look at it more deeply we cannot help but to see the absurdity.
It is as absurd as if we as humans were born and began to believe that in order to be worthy in life we need to be able to flap our arms and fly. And, sure enough, we fail to meet that standard, and we are then proven unworthy - so that we are forever doomed to self criticism and also to punishing ourselves, for surely, we believe, that will drive us to try harder.
We think we need to be special and above average in order feel good about ourselves. We even think we should be able to be tough, courageous, perhaps as famous, and successful as some rarely accomplished person. Then we'll be ok.
Preposterous!!! In fact, preposteri to the max!!! (Preposteri is the plural of preposterous, of course.)
Such "standards" or "criteria" for being ok merely set us up to live in the Unhappiness Gap, which I discuss over and over and over, until I think it will show up enough for you to learn to use the basic baseline as the new criteria for "success" or "being worthy".
HOW WE LIVE AS A RESULT OF THE OLD SYSTEM
We seek continually to seek positive evaluation from others and also from ourself, which is all a "bit like stuffing ourselves with candy - we get a brief sugar high, then a crash," as Kristin Neff puts it (see book citation in the left column).
But the minute we let our guard down or stop our push or fail to meet the unsustainable levels, we crash. And then we beat ourselves up, adding (self) insult to (self) injury, feeling the shame of not being good enough.
We believe it as if it is real. But it isn't. It's not at all real - the thought, that is, the thought that led to the feeling. Yes, the feeling is real, but it is totally unnecessary - we created it from a false thought and magnified it through another false thought - the latter is the thought/belief that shame is a motivator, a form of compelling punishment. An "interesting" side effect is that we fail so often to meet our unrealistic expectations that we fall into despair and hopelessness (which can lead to different degrees of helplessness, further down the path to victimhood). We become insecure, more anxious, and sometimes ever so needlessly we can become depressed.
One solution might be to design a new set of criteria, but based on something reasonable and attainable.
As our baseline, we could simply ask "how good do I need to be in life?". The answer might be, from the guru high in the mountains: "just capable enough to be able to survive and have time for a little experiencing of life." Indeed, I do recommend that you establish this a new baseline, starting with the exercise of answering "How Much Is Enough?" (You should also do the exercise to establish a new baseline for happiness.)
A BETTER SOLUTION
"So what's the answer? To stop judging and evaluating ourselves altogether. To stop trying to label ourselves as "good" or "bad" and simply accept ourselves with an open heart. To treat ourselve with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show to a good friend.." Kristin Neff, op.cit.
This is the lesson she learned when exposed to Buddhism and that I learned when exposed to the understandings in L.S. Barksdale's works (see L.S. Barksdale Pieces and links). In Barksdale's works, we learn the realities of human behavior, so we can understand how things really work in us humans. And we learn, even grok, that "We humans simply do the best we can at the time, given the current limits of our awareness. The person is never at fault or to blame. The fault lies in the lack of awareness." (This is copied from My Core Affirmations And Life Statement page.) Surely this equates to a "mathematical" reality that throws out the validity of judging another - or yourself! Learn the Barksdale materials - I'll guarantee they'll make a huge difference in your life! In Buddhism, we learn that all other human beings are seeking happiness, as we are, and to relieve suffering, as we are. They are (at least 99+%) "just like us" - and we can only have compassion for them. (See Compassion, For Yourself First, Then Others.)
With Nelson Mandela, his understanding was that his guards were people, too, who could change. He treated them with dignity and respect, as all humans are worthy of that simply because they exist.
LETTING GO OF THE "IT'S MOTIVATING" BELIEF
"If I'm too self-compassionate, won't I just be lazy and selfish?", Neff writes. But even if that were true, surely it is a worse price to drive oneself into feeling inadequate and insecure.
But each of us needs to get rid of the idea that punishment motivates, as it in fact is poor at that, often causing more discouragement and giving up. The falseness behind the belief is discussed in Living The Punitive Way, The Road To Hell.
ANOTHER ADVANTAGE OF SELF-COMPASSION
We foolishly seek to be filled up with positive evaluation from others, hoping that they will supply what we lack. Often relationships become an "exchange" based on that hope, crashing to the ground when expectations are not met.
Two faults lie in that approach: It never works sufficiently well; we're still left with not enough. And the truth is that it is futile to try to control another (or hope) to provide you with what you need.
And the irony is that if you give to yourself and fill yourself up, you have more to give to the other person, and that giving has you feel even better (kind acts cause humans to feel happy), which is hugely important, but it also has the other person feeling better toward you and more able to give to you! Self-compassion is a huge multiplier of happiness!
Hopefully, you got the basic point(s) here. And you've decided it could be worth developing self-compassion and even getting good at it.
Hopefully, you'll read Self-Compassion, Stop Beating Yourself Up And Leave Insecurity Behind, Kristin Neff, Ph. D., so you'll have a deeper understanding.
We'll finish this piece with a final quote from Neff:
"Uh, excuse me. There must be some error. I signed up for the 'everything will go swimmingly until the day I die' plan. Can I speak to the management, please!?"
Of course, this is not your way of thinking until you "own" it and install it thoroughly enough so that it is automatically available when your old programming mechanically pops up (and then gradually the old programming will begin to dissipate).
I see that