To give ourselves compassion, we first have to recognize that we are suffering. We can’t heal what we can’t feel. We certainly feel the sting of falling short of our ideals, but our mind tends to focus on the failure itself, rather than the pain caused by failure. This is a crucial difference. The moment we see something about ourselves we don’t like, our attention tends to be absorbed by our perceived flaws. In that moment, we don’t have the perspective needed to recognize the suffering caused by our feelings of imperfection, let alone to respond with compassion. We need to stop for a breath or two and acknowledge that we’re having a hard time, and that our pain is deserving of kind, caring response.