In light of the holiday season, it seems like adding another stop on our self-compassion journey is essential! Last post we discussed the first element of self-compassion: mindfulness. Next Stop: common humanity!
Though Valentine’s season may be a great and wonderful holiday for some, others may start to increase their negative self-talk – from judging their imperfections and failures, to ruminating about mistakes and downfalls. And so, on a day cultivated for love and connection, we may have a tendency to physically, mentally, or emotionally isolate – which ironically is the opposite of common humanity. Though these reactions are typical, they rips us away from what actually makes us “human” … being flawed.
While growing up my dad would always tell me, “there’s nothing you can do, that the sun hasn’t already seen”. It gave me peace knowing that both my trials and errors had companions. It also taught me a lesson on how to shift the “poor me” mentality to a shared universal connection. Recognizing that vulnerabilities and personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience creates a meaningful connection within ourselves and others.
If it were possible to take a completely logical approach to our situations, we would be able to recognize that there are thousands of things that can go wrong in life at any one time, so it’s inevitable that we will experience hardships from time to time. The fact is, we are emotional beings who have a hard time being rational and logical all the time, which results in suffering and feeling alone in those feelings.
Therefore, establishing common humanity cultivated allows you to be more understanding and less judgmental about inadequacies. The thoughts, feelings and actions you have are heavily impacted by factors outside of your control (for instance: parenting history, culture, genetic and environmental conditions, expectations of others). If we did have control over every thought, feeling or behavior, I’m sure the impact of mental health would look a lot different! However, since most aspects of our life circumstances are not of our intentional choosing, we can start to acknowledge this reality, and take steps in accepting that our flaws do not need to be experienced in isolation.
On your self-compassion timeline I encourage you to add moments where you were able to share your pain, failures, or your downfalls with someone else. This can look like a time you lost your job – and others supported you and discussed times when they too lost their job or a position. This may also look like a time you struggled with an addiction or mental health issue- and a friend, support group, or observations showed you – you weren’t alone.