“Welcome everything about yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is the only way that our lives truly heal. It is the only way that our inner ‘enemies’ turn into friends and allies that accompany us in harmony on our journey.”
The Happy Buddha
Wherever anxiety comes from, besides genetics and environment, there seems to be a common problem that we all suffer from.
Loving and accepting ourselves with all our flaws seems beyond our capabilities when we’re anxious. Not only do we lack self-compassion, but we feel that we’re not good enough, and we criticize ourselves for not living up to the crazy expectations we constantly hold over our heads.
The unrealistic expectations usually involve saying and doing things correctly because we care so much what people think about us. Ideally, we shouldn’t care, and this is a skill we can learn.
I came across a lyric sung by Scrooge in A Christmas Carol which I think relates to self- compassion:
“Life is the present, the past and the future. No one is bound by what’s come before”. What an empowering notion. “Yes, our present experience may be defined by our past, but that doesn’t mean that our future is beholden. In the moment of grace, we always have the ability to choose again.” William Deschenes
We Let People We Love Make Mistakes
When people we love make mistakes, we are understanding instead of judgmental. But we fail to feel compassion for ourselves being quick to notice our flaws. Instead we always strive to be perfect in our actions, which not only causes anxiety but it’s impossible to do.
We Can Make Mistakes Too
We’re always telling our kids that they should not be afraid to make mistakes, why can’t we believe it ourselves?
We Can Learn Self-Compassion Which Gives Us Permission To Be Imperfect
Be warm and gentle toward yourself instead of ignoring your feelings and criticizing for all your wrongdoings.
Treat Yourself As A Small Child
Treat yourself as you would a small child who is in pain. You must recognize that you are suffering just like you would notice a homeless, hungry person’s suffering. You feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help them in some way. It is important do this for yourself.
It might be helpful to display a picture of yourself when you were young on your bureau. Think about how you could console that little girl you once were who now feels pain from anxiety and/or depression.
Give Yourself Permission
Write yourself permission slips to act or feel a certain way. After you put 10 into a jar, go treat yourself to a nice dinner or a new book.
You Are Not Alone
You often see others as having it all together. This seems to solidify the thought that you are the only one who is lacking in your ability to be happy. We all suffer, but if we’re anxious we feel like we are just surviving instead of living.
Remember – almost 7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from GAD. And globally, 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety. We certainly are not alone. Our flaws should connect us, not make us feel like nobody understands.
Mindfulness reminds you to question what you are thinking so you can channel your negative thoughts. You learn to observe your thoughts and emotions as they are without trying to suppress or deny them. You just become aware of them. Mindfulness is about observing yourself without criticism: being compassionate with yourself.
Jon Kabat Zinn
Jon Kabat Zinn’s definition of mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.
A quick way to apply mindfulness to anxiety:
- Focus on all the sensations that you feel in your body when you are anxious – tight chest – tight stomach- sweating- heart racing -lightheaded -racing thoughts, etc.
- Be present and in the moment.
- Allow yourself to think the anxious and distressing thoughts, don’t fight them.
By recognizing your thoughts for what they are, you may come to see that they are not true, and then be able to let them go.
Be Good to Yourself
When life is good, don’t look around the corner for the next bad thing to happen. I did this for years. For some reason, we feel unworthy of good things happening to us.
You Deserve To Feel Happy
We believe that happiness shouldn’t last so we start to guilty for having too much of it. Then we pick one of our “go to” worries which reels in any chance of feeling good for too long. Just be good to yourself.
We Can’t Be Everything To Everybody
We’re not bad people if we’re not trying to solve all the world’s problems. We can help in some way, focus on our families, exist, and feel joy.
Pray and ask for forgiveness for your sins and let them go. If you would forgive a friend, why not yourself? There is no sense in punishing the future for the mistakes of your past.
Accept Your Mistakes
Write yourself a letter like you would to your son. Actions don’t define who you are as a total person. Accept your mistakes, grow from them and vow not to repeat them.
Learn what will help you overcome your struggles, find the meaning from them, then see what they can do for you. My anxiety was a curse, until I overcame it. Then I realized it was a blessing because I changed my attitude and my obsessive negative thinking for good.
Anxiety Is An Opportunity
Try to see your anxiety as an opportunity to make big changes in your life! I believe you are where you are supposed to be right now, for a reason.
Practice Having Gratitude
Consciously figure out what you are grateful for and write it down because you will have a good chance of believing it. The best way to make this a habit is to write 2-3 things every night before going to sleep, and 2-3 things when you wake up. This will help you to find the good in everyday and bring you little moments of grace.
Learning how to be compassionate with yourself will help you understand how important it is to love and be good to yourself. This greatly enhances our ability to overcome anxiety.
“It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.”
Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is