by Jeff Duke, MSW, RSW
With everything that has been happening over 2016 many people may be asking themselves, “What is going on in the world?” or “Why is this happening?”
It may seem like human beings have lost their way or are becoming more angry and cruel.
It is my experience that being able to understand another person’s point of view without judgement while not necessarily agreeing with them can go a long way to healing rifts and opening up lines of communication to repair relational divides.
Easier said than done! One step that can bring you closer to being able to hear a person with an outlook that differs from your own is to actually become more compassionate towards yourself. It is often the case that the people who are able to give the most compassion, understanding, and respect to others are those who have learned that they are worthy of receiving these gifts from others and are also able to give these gifts to themselves.
I was inspired to write this posting when in one moment I was thinking about the importance of being compassionate towards myself as it would benefit others, then in the next moment proceeded to criticize myself for not remembering to thaw out my lunch, and finally giving myself permission not to be perfect.
It can be helpful in moments where you catch yourself being self-critical to bring your attention whether the issue is truly worthy of the intensity of the criticism you are directing at yourself or criticism at all. For example the, “Can’t you do anything right?” thoughts piling up in my head over the delay in having lunch was clearly unnecessary and not compassionate towards myself.
Next try to notice what physical sensations arise in you when you are self-critical and try to be present with them until they dissipate on their own. This can allow you experience other more understanding thoughts towards yourself i.e. “It’s not the end of the world, you can heat your lunch up.”
Over time the more self-accepting and self-understanding you become the more you will be able to communicate and bridge relational divides with people who you disagree with. Those are some of the qualities that will be needed to heal the divisions and polarizations we see in the world today.
For people who struggle with being unnecessarily self-critical counseling can be beneficial and I am here to help. Remember you are worthy of the love and respect that you desire.