The goalposts for what counts as “good enough” always seem to be out of reach. No matter how well we do, someone else always seems to be doing it better. The result of this line of thinking is sobering: Millions of people who need to take pharmaceuticals every day just to cope with daily life. Insecurity, anxiety, and depression are incredibly common in our society, and much of this is due to self-judgment, to beating ourselves up when we feel we aren’t winning in the game of life.
So what’s the answer? To stop judging and evaluating ourselves altogether. To stop trying to label ourselves as “good” or “bad” and simply accept ourselves with an open heart. To treat ourselves with the same kindness, caring, and compassion we would show to a good friend — or even a stranger, for that matter. Self-compassion provides an island of calm, a refuge from the stormy seas of endless positive and negative self-judgment, so that we can finally stop asking, “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?” By tapping into our inner wellsprings of kindness, acknowledging the shared nature of our imperfect human condition, we can start to feel more secure, accepted, and alive.
It does take work to break the self-criticizing habits of a lifetime, but at the end of the day, you are only being asked to relax, allow life to be as it is, and open your heart to yourself. It’s easier than you might think, and it could change your life.
Kristan Neff, Why Self-Compassion trumps Self-Esteem
When we enter the present moment deeply, our regrets and sorrows disappear, and we discover life with all its wonders. Breathing in, we say to ourselves, “I have arrived.” Breathing out, we say,”I am home.” When we do this, we overcome dispersion and dwell peacefully in the present moment, which is the only moment for us to be alive.
Thich Nhat Hahn, Walking Meditation
A morning walk in the cool woods, with the sounds of the birds and the sight of the poppies flourishing at the sides of the fields. Summer is incredible early and beautiful this year. Walking without expectation or goal. The Eastern idea of apranihita – aimlessness. No need to have a purpose or to run after something. Making light space on the journey after some full, rich days. What is important is not necessarily what we are experiencing, but how we relate to it.
My grandmother’s voice says nothing can surprise her.
She knows the spaces we travel through, the messages we cannot send — our voices are short and would get lost on the journey.
Farewell to the husband’s coat, the ones she has loved and nourished, who fly from her like seeds into a deep sky. They will plant themselves. We will all die.
My grandmother’s eyes say Allah is everywhere, even in death.
When she talks of the orchard and the new olive press,
when she tells the stories of Joha and his foolish wisdoms,
He is her first thought, what she really thinks of is His name.
“Answer, if you hear the words under the words—
otherwise it is just a world with a lot of rough edges,
difficult to get through, and our pockets full of stones.“
Naomi Shihab Nye, The Words Under the Words
What is known as “realizing the mystery” is nothing but breaking through to grasp an ordinary persons life.
For most people, just the thought of being ordinary is like a cross to a vampire; it’s the thing we fear most. We want to be unique and special, not ordinary, and we turn to books on meditation, perhaps, to help turn us into the kind of special person we want to be. None of us want to accept the mind that we have got. We come to practice because there are aspects of the mind that we don’t know how to come to terms with.
This dread of being ordinary has many roots deep in our psychological makeup. We dread being lost in the crowd, feeling that we have never gotten the attention or acknowledgement that we deserve. So much of our life is spent running away from the ordinary, and towards what we think of as some kind of a spiritual alternative.
Barry Magid, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness
When we come face to face with the fear and pain in our psyche, we stand at the gateway to tremendous renewal and freedom. Our deepest nature is awareness, and when we fully inhabit that, we love freely and are whole… When we stop fighting the energy that has been bound in fear, it naturally releases into the boundless sea of awareness. The more we awaken from the grip of fear, the more radiant and free becomes the heart.
Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance
Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you can become, or how energized, when you encounter the everyday setbacks as well as momentous defeats.
Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism