Look, I’m going to be completely transparent here and say that the word “self help” and the personal and professional growth space makes me cringe at times. I realize my saying this may seem comical considering this is the industry I have chosen to dedicate my life to—and I continue to invest many hours of my own personal and professional development. But just like every industry, you have great scholars and pioneers who are doing great work, positively impacting others and changing lives. And then there are others who are capitalizing on other peoples’ pain, fears, and tragedies.
To start with, the word self-help indicates your self is in need of help, and while that may be the case, growth shouldn’t necessarily stem from needing or wanting help. It can stem simply because you’d like to bloom into a greater version of yourself. (GN#23)
Also, there are a series of stigmas and sometimes aggressive messaging tied to the self-help industry. Have you ever seen the Facebook and Instagram videos that say, “You just gotta do it, you have to be motivated. You just have to! Go now and do it! Don’t waste your time and don’t waste mine. If you want to succeed and make millions, you just have to put your mind to it!” Now, I’m not degrading anyone or any program, but the challenge with some of this messaging is that it can make the targeted audience feel bad about themselves if they choose not wake up at 4am to work out, for example—or if they fail in hitting goals they set for themselves. So many people who are investing in their growth and trying to build a positive, motivating mindset are also beating themselves up every time they make a mistake or discover a shortcoming.
We have built a billion-dollar industry that in some ways makes us feel bad when we don’t jump up and down to buy a $30,000 program! How does that work? Again, I’m not putting down the industry as I am also in it—but I have seen people in need of mentorship, new tools, and to get their business going from the ground up. And when they didn’t spend $25,000 on a coaching program because they couldn’t afford it, they were meant to feel bad in front of a whole room full of people who did buy in.
I share this story and my thoughts to say that the journey is tough! You will fall, you will fail, and you will have shortcomings—over and over again. And if you don’t have compassion for yourself when these obstacles present themselves, you will continue to mentally torture yourself.
Compassion is a beautiful word. It means to respond and relate to someone who has suffered or feels pain—showing kindness and support to those in need. Compassion for yourself means acting in the same way, but toward yourself as you go through difficult times or fail.
When we have compassion for others we are able to see that they are human, and we understand that no one is perfect. Having compassion for yourself brings humanity to the forefront and allows you to recognize that you are not a robot and that mistakes are inevitable as a human being. It allows you to put yourself on the same level as the rest of humanity.
When we lack compassion for ourselves, our relationships with others and ourselves suffer. If we can’t show kindness and love to ourselves, can we really show it to others? Rather than feeling unworthy when we fall or show up below our best, self-compassion allows us to uphold our self-worth.
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