I’m Seriously Lacking Self-Compassion

15 Sep

Quite a few things this week have led me to examine the way that I treat myself.  My husband and I try to get together daily and spend at least an hour talking, followed by 20 minutes of dialoging.  Some days we have topics that one or both of us want to touch on, so that is what we use as our dialog question.  Other days we use questions from the Retrouvaille workbook.  I also found a great website with a huge list of questions by topic (with everything you can possibly think of organized A-Z), and a random question generator.

On Wednesday we decided to give that a try and decided on the randomly generated question, “Do I judge other people by higher or lower standards than I use on myself?  How do I feel about that?”  Below is a portion of my answer:

Generally speaking, I judge others by lower standards than I use for myself.  For example, I would only accept strait A’s for myself in college, but I don’t expect the same from you (my husband) or my sister.  I can be very proud of you when you get a B in class, whereas if I got a B it would be devastating, embarrassing, and traumatic.

I also expect perfection, or near perfection in almost anything I do.  As such, I feel less than or embarrassed (yet again) anytime I make a mistake or have to ask for help.  I put immense pressure on myself in a way I would never dream of putting on others.

At the same time, I believe even my lower standards for others are sometimes higher than they are used to.  My overall philosophy is to set the bar high and expect 100% effort.  In that way, even if someone falls a little short they still achieve more and push themself harder than they would with little to no expectations set forth.  I always responded much better to teachers and others who wanted the best out of me.  It made me feel like I was someone with value, who was special, and I want to do the same with those that I love – let them know I think highly of them and their abilities.

I have mixed feelings about my answer.  When I think of the increased pressure I put on myself, I feel sad.  This sadness is a feeling of dismay, probably a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.  It feels unfortunate that I would judge myself so harshly.  The physical sensation is like a twinge or a pang of pain in a sore muscle after a few days of recuperating.  It isn’t sharp and powerful, but more of a remnant.

My second response is in response to my lowered, yet still high, expectations of others.  It seems like a more reasonable approach, and it makes me feel like an inspirational person who gives encouragement.

Keep in mind that the above was written in a 10 minute span with no opportunity to edit or review my thoughts as they were going onto the paper.  The fact that I am even posting it here, unedited, makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable.  I suppose the best way to get over my issues is to attack them head on.

After my husband and I exchanged notebooks and read each other’s answers, we started dialoging on our feelings.  The point of the 10 minutes of dialoging is to really understand the emotions of your spouse.  I actually wrote a bit too much about my thoughts and not enough about my feelings since I ran out of time.  However, when my husband and I dialoged I was able to delve into my feelings much more.  Of course, I ended up in tears.  That was the first smack in the face that my approach to myself is really not healthy.  I knew it before, but I pushed that realization to the back of my mind and never let the emotional aspect come out.

Then Friday while reviewing the blog of a fantastic writer who has done a lot of self-reflection I came across a post about self-compassion.  The words really resonated with me, even though he is far more compassionate to himself than I am.  He included a link to an online test that he took.  I decided to head over there and see how bad it really was.  Here is the scoring rubric and my scores:

Score interpretations:
Average overall self-compassion scores tend to be around 3.0 on the 1-5 scale, so you can interpret your overall score accordingly. As a rough guide, a score of 1-2.5 for your overall self-compassion score indicates you are low in self-compassion, 2.5-3.5 indicates you are moderate, and 3.5-5.0 means you are high. Remember that higher scores for the Self-Judgment, Isolation, and Over-Identification subscales indicate less self-compassion, while lower scores on these dimensions are indicative of more self-compassion (these subscales are automatically reverse-coded when your overall self-compassion score is calculated.)

My Scores:
Self-Kindness: 2.40
Self-Judgment: 4.40
Common Humanity: 2.00
Isolation: 3.50
Mindfulness: 2.75
Over-Identification: 4.00
Overall score: 2.21

So, there it is…  I’m not very compassionate to myself, and I’m extremely self-judgmental.  Sadly, that sounds about right.

This morning in my S-Anon meeting the topic chosen by the group (not proposed by me) was self-care.  Yep.  I definitely needed to hear everyone’s shares on how to take care of yourself, give yourself grace, and put your feelings and needs first.  I have been getting slightly better with self-care in areas like eating better, exercising (I absolutely love karate), and doing little things for myself every day.

I still have a very critical mindset towards myself, though.  I am still a perfectionist.  I still set myself up for failure, then beat myself up when I do fail.  Now that I am really aware of it and how it affects me emotionally, I’m going to have to find a way to contradict that voice inside that tells me I will never live up to anyone’s expectations for me, or my own expectations for myself.  I have to really accept that I am enough, that I am exceptional just the way I am.

compassion hearts

compassion hearts (Photo credit: journeyscoffee)

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7 Responses to “I’m Seriously Lacking Self-Compassion”

  1. exercisegrace September 17, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    My overall score was 2.13. No surprise there! My self-esteem is at a lifetime low right now. On the other side of that though, I am now fully awake. Pre-affair, I gave everything I had to being a stay at home wife and mother. I put everyone’s needs above my own. Always. I catered to my husband, supported him 110%, overrode my suspicions and trusted to the Nth degree. Now, I trust my instincts. I have done a number of things for myself. New hairstyle complete with highlights. New clothes (which look great, as I have lost about 25 pounds in six months) new shoes, and some nice handbags. Inexpensive but pretty accessories. Spent some time in the tanning bed (I know, I know) and I take the time to wear makeup again. I voice my opinion more. I give myself permission to fail sometimes. I apologize more readily. I apologize more appropriately (ie for HOW I said something, not WHAT NEEDED to be said).
    Clearly, from score I am far from where I need to be, but at least now I feel like I know how to get there.

    • beautifulmess7 September 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      I have been trying to do some of those same things – went to the hairstylist recently, got a tattoo, pierced my nose, lost 25 pounds, got new clothes and shoes, a few new bags, and freshened up my make-up collection. I am trying to give myself permission to fail, even while screaming inside just for using that word. I do apologize much more readily now – especially since I rarely did it at all before. I have come to realize that the world won’t end, no one will think less of me (actually, they will think more), and in fact, apologizing and admitting I am wrong when I am feels good.

      It’s all about progress, not perfection!

  2. A Dog With Fleas September 16, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    Sometimes we are our worst critic and beat ourselves up for being trying to be perfect. And no matter how much we try, no one can be pefect. I am so glad that you can see that you are exceptional just the way you are!! 🙂 And hopefully that will bring you peace and happiness! L)

    • beautifulmess7 September 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks. 🙂 I am definitely my worst critic, by far.

  3. rgonaut September 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Perfectionism is dangerous to your emotional well being. Its a way of dulling both the good and the bad emotions. (lots of addictive behaviors do this..) You can never get to being perfect so you always eventually end up depressed I think. Might also be connected with OCD, are you OCD at all? Do you need things to be just so? Do you have routines that you must do?

    • beautifulmess7 September 15, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

      Maybe mildly, but not to the point that I would ever be diagnosed that way. I like to drive the same way to and from anywhere I go regularly, down to when I change lanes, etc. I don’t wash my hands compulsively, count things, tap things, or any of that stuff. My room is sometimes messy, my desk is organized mostly in piles, and I’m not especially particular about most things.

      • rgonaut September 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

        No you don’t seem OCD at all…normal. You do have very high standards, I can see that from your blog. I don’t think many people would even get close to your standards. I don’t know that that’s a bad thing though. Could be a good thing.

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