hen we are in a
trance of unworthiness
, caught up in our stories and fears about how we mightfail, we are living in a waking dream that completely defines and limits our experience of life.Feeling unworthy goes hand in hand with feeling separate from others, separate from life. The moredeficient we feel, the more separate and vulnerable we feel. Underneath our fear of being flawed is amore primal fear that something is wrong with life, that something bad is going to happen.Our feelings of unworthiness and alienation from others give rise to various forms of suffering - addiction,dependence on a particular person or people to feel complete, long hours of grueling work to prove weare important, or the creation of outer enemies and always being at war with the world.
The belief that we are deficient and unworthy makes it difficult to trust that we are truly loved.
Manyof us feel an undercurrent of depression or hopelessness about ever feeling close to other people. We
fear that if they realize we are boring or stupid, selfish or insecure, they’ll reject us. If we’re not attractive
enough, we may never be loved in an intimate, romantic way. We yearn for an unquestioned experienceof belonging, to feel at home with ourselves and others, at ease, and fully accepted. But the trance of unworthiness keeps the sweetness of belonging out of reach.
Tara Brach, American psychologist, Buddhist meditation teacher, founder of Insight Meditation
elf-esteem is a global evaluation of self worth, a judgment. Am I a good person? Am I a bad person?Self-compassion is not a way of judging ourselves, but a way of relating to ourselves kindly, embracingourselves as we are, flaws and all. I define self compassion as having 3 components. The first is
treatingourselves with kindness,
like we treat a good friend with encouragement, understanding, empathy,patience, gentleness. The second component is our
. What does it mean to be human?All of us, all over the globe, are imperfect and our lives are imperfect. That is the shared humanexperience. The third component is
mindfulness: being with what is in the present moment
. We need tobe able to turn towards, acknowledge, and accept that we are suffering in order to give ourselves
compassion. We often aren’t aware that we are suffering, especially when that suffering comes from ourown harsh self criticism. If we don’t notice, we can’t give ourselves the compassion we need.
People sometimes think self-compassion is self-indulgent or selfish -
it isn’t. The more we are able to have
our hearts open to ourselves, the more we have available to give to others.
Kristin Neff, Associate Professor of Human Development, University of Texas
Readings for June 14:
An exploration of our tendency to beharsh and critical to ourselves -and the possibilities of living with self-love and self-compassion