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Love Yourself Before You Love Others

Wholehearted compassion starts with self-compassion.

Do you sometimes feel like it is so much easier to love others than to love yourself? To be kind to your friends than to be kind to yourself? To help others rather than helping yourself? You're not alone. Despite today's comments about people being more narcissistic than ever before (think 'selfies' and Facebook status updates), people are also more insecure than ever. Often, you are your own worst critic. This is why it's sometimes easier to show compassion to others than to yourself.

Ohmann Alianne (Flickr)
Source: Ohmann Alianne (Flickr)

But you shouldn't give up that easily. If you want to truly connect with people wholeheartedly, you need to accept yourself wholeheartedly first. Yes you can still be kind, show compassion and help others out—but only if it's not at the expense of your own compassion. Because that's a recipe for disaster.

If you try to run away from being self-compassionate by throwing compassion to anyone and everyone but you, you will exhaust yourself out. You won't even allow yourself to experience the joy that comes from giving to others. You will simply keep telling yourself it's not enough and that you have to do more. You will do that until the day comes that you realise you can not do anymore, even if you wanted to. You will wear yourself out—and then you won't be able to help anyone anymore.

You don't want to get to that place that you've worn yourself out. I don't want you to get there either. I've been there a few times and trust me, it's not fun! I learned to be more compassionate towards myself and realised this was what made my compassion towards others so much more powerful. I'm not going to lie and say I'm self-compassionate 24/7, but I'm definitely way ahead of where I was a few years back. When I'm struggling to find the self-compassion, I go back to the three exercises which made self-compassion a reality for me.

  1. Write down your self-talk and see if you’d say these things to a friend. If the answer is no, you know you’ve got to change your language.
  2. Develop self-compassion phrases to say to yourself when you hear the negative self-talk come in. For example, I use phrases like “I am focused, determined and passionate”; "I am enough just the way I am”; and “I am forever learning and growing, learning to master life.”
  3. Write a letter to yourself imagining you are your best, most compassionate friend writing to you. Make sure the letter is full of authentic love and praise. Really push yourself to imagine what amazing things your best friends would say to you. Keep the letter and read it back whenever you're in need of a self-compassion boost.

With that I leave you to reflect on your compassion. Check your scale and make sure that your compassion is equally balanced to yourself and to others. Remember to be kind to yourself first and foremost so that you can spread a more wholehearted kindness everywhere you go.

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