Karen Armstrong: Finding Compassion for Yourself
We have seen that compassion is essential to humanity. We have a biological need to be cared for and to care for others. Yet it is not easy to love ourselves. In our target-driven societies, we are more inclined to castigate ourselves for our shortcomings and become inordinately cast down by any failure to achieve our objectives and potential. But the Golden Rule requires self-knowledge; it asks that we use our own feelings as a guide to our behavior with others. Because if we treat ourselves harshly, this is the way we are likely to treat other people.
Step 1: Make Your List
We need to acquire a healthier and more balanced knowledge of our strengths as well as our weaknesses. As we work through this, we should make a list of our good qualities, talents, and achievements. We recognize flaws in some of our closest friends, but this does not diminish our affection for them. Nor should it affect the way we value ourselves. Before we can make friends with others, we have to make a friend of our own self. Without denying your faults, remember all the people you have helped, the kind things you have done that nobody noticed, and your successes at home and at work. A sense of humor is also important: we should be able to smile at our failings, in the same way as we tease a friend.
Next: How to find a calming "even mindedness"