I Read My Old Journal & Found I Need Self-Compassion, Too. You?
Earlier this morning, I was reading an old journal of mine from about fifteen or sixteen years ago. I've been on a bit of a mission during the quarantine to revisit my times past in an effort to fully come to terms with some issues that I've dealt with throughout my entire life. I was mainly expecting to be given some insights into where I was at the time and to seek to re-frame my emotional struggles then through my more mature (hopefully) eyes.
There was quite a bit of that. In some ways I couldn't be more different than I was then. However, much of me is the same at my core. That part wasn't too surprising. You know what was surprising? How many times I found myself cringing and rolling my eyes at the person I was at the time and the thoughts I was having.
As I read, I could feel myself wincing and rolling my eyes at my younger self. Although some of what I wrote was okay, the laughter and embarrassment at my naivete was stunning. Now, obviously when we're younger we tend to see things from a less experienced point of view, and that can be chuckle-worthy to our older selves. But in some ways, I felt almost repelled and judgmental.
Why are we so very hard on ourselves? Understandably, we all do things and behave in ways that we regret or grow past. In that way, self-reflection is good. At some point, though, the scale tips toward self-condemnation and "navel-gazing" in an unkind way. Many of us would never judge someone else as harshly as we do ourselves. We sometimes seem to have a "grace" for others we don't allow for ourselves.
As I type this now, I'm freshly seeking to give myself a bit of compassion for some of the silliness of my youth. It's the same compassion I'd give to you and I bet you'd most likely give to me. So, whether we read something in a journal or notice a behavior we inhabit today, give yourself a little grace as you seek to change. It'll help.
That's not the same as being self-indulgent or narcissistic. But self-compassion, I've found, seems to be a necessary first step to having true compassion for others. I don't know why exactly--but it does.
Don't forget to be kind to you, too.