but what if I can’t feel compassion or acceptance for myself?

Deb Lang PsyD, RD; Licensed Psychologist

Are you are worried that this approach won’t work for you because you can’t feel compassion for yourself – don’t deserve it or like the apple in the photo, you feel too blemished?

If so, guess what?

That’s actually a great place to get started!

Self-acceptance and compassion are skills.

Being a beginner and not being very good is a pretty common place to be when we go to learn something new, right?

if you have never practiced something is it reasonable to expect that you can't get good at it?

With enough practice, we can increase our skill in most things we try – even emotional skills.

it’s okay to be right where you are

If so you are not alone. Many of my clients say something along the lines of

 “I will never feel compassion for myself” or “I don’t deserve compassion.”  

And they express feelings for themselves that aren’t anywhere near kindness or compassion.

It is a pretty common experience when people start this process to be feeling undeserving of compassion, for one reason or another.

I let them know that it’s okay. And the great thing about this work is that you can start wherever you are, right now.

So, maybe the starting place is feeling compassion for not being very good at it.

Or, maybe it is compassion and acceptance for believing you don’t deserve it.

And by starting where ever it is that you are, it will grow.

a bit of faith

One client in particular comes to mind who was adamant that she would never be able to feel compassion for herself.

I let her know that I believed that it would happen and that I would hold the trust, if she would practice.

It reminds me of fruit trees in the spring. I know they are going to bloom, even though, when I look at them in the early spring, I am sure they are dead.

I had faith that compassion would show up just like those spring blossoms – unexpected and beautiful.

if we practice feeling compassion for ourselves it will grow

My client didn’t feel anything when she put her hand on her heart, except maybe disgust in the beginning.

And, she practiced.

it didn’t happen overnight and it happened.  

In moments of deepest struggle, she would rub her arm and say,

“I need to feel compassion for myself right now.”  

She would close her eyes and her system would calm.  And sometimes tears of joy would come to her eyes.

I share this with you because I want you to know that it is okay if you don’t believe that you can do it or if you believe you don’t deserve it.

you can feel compassion for yourself wherever ever you are

That is the beauty of self-acceptance and self-compassion.  

It is okay to be right where you are!

You can totally believe you don’t deserve compassion and feel acceptance of that! As acceptance grows so does compassion.

All of us can do it. It is there, it just takes awareness and practice.