In a world of perfect images, competition and constant critiquing of everything from social behavior, body image (diet and exercise advertisements), celebrity and so on, it is difficult to step back and listen to your own inner voice. Compassion and empathy for yourself are easily taught. We are social animals and we learn from social modeling, practicing and rehearsing.
Self-compassion, empathy, and self-esteem all have things in common, although they are not equal in outcome. Self-compassion and empathy require self-knowledge. The ability to recognize and acknowledge your patterns of behavior allows you to connect to your inner voice, while making peace with the critical voice in your mind. In a form of behavior modification, you can recognize that the critical voice within is part of your childhood insecurity and lack of self-esteem. By catching a glimpse of the principle under the pattern of your behavior, you can change that inner conversation.
Media as well as society tends to discourage self-analysis and self-compassion. The media hype toward perfection - physical, emotional and financial perfection - creates a competition that can never be won. And as young women strive for each momentary high, they may find that success still leaves them stressed and unhappy inside.
Self-compassion can inoculate your daughter against peer-pressure and the need for perfection. You can easily teach self-compassion to your daughter. First, you do so by modeling that compassionate behavior yourself – your daughters need to see you being kind and gentle with yourself; no more talk of how chubby you are or downplaying your successes in front of your daughters. Let them see your self-compassion in small ways each day.
Next, you can teach your daughter self-compassion through mindful actions and practices, such as journaling and meditation, a positive inner dialogue and kindness. By teaching your daughter to focus on her inner being, the central core of her existence and her own resource, she will not only feel more compassion toward herself, but she will also be more compassionate toward others.
In the final analysis, you have to be what you want to see. Self-compassion is important not just for our daughters to possess, but for us as mothers and grandmothers to possess first. So remember: be gentle with yourself, be kind to yourself as you are and have compassion for the person you are becoming. Your daughter is watching, and will model the self-compassion that she sees in you.