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Showing Self-Compassion 2: Recognizing Self-Judgment

Showing Self-Compassion Day 2: Recognizing Self-Judgment

Sharon Snooks 

Yesterday, I provided a simple definition of self-compassion as the ability to be with yourself in your pain and suffering. It is the same warmth and care that you have for others directed toward yourself. I further expanded it for a Christian, adding that it is taking in God’s compassion for yourself. Compassion is something that He freely offers to us. “It is because of the LORD’S lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, Amplified).

The enemy seeks to interfere with this compassionate care that we can receive from the Lord, often through thoughts of self-judgment and self-criticism. Some individuals are so used to having these thoughts that they don’t even notice. It would be well worth it to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you whether you have these thoughts, and in what circumstances, and then to ask Him for help to change these patterns. 

Some may be concerned that there is too much focus on self with this kind of self-compassion talk, and I can appreciate that concern, so allow me to explain. As we take in God’s compassion toward ourselves, it opens the door to directing our attention to Him, thanking Him for our Savior’s suffering for us and with us, and, in turn, praising and worshipping Him. But if we are hard on ourselves and filled with self-judgment, the focus stays on our self and often gets stuck there. So often our focus doesn’t shift to the Lord and who He is and what He has done—which changes everything! 

As I noted in yesterday’s post, Kristen Neff, a self-compassion researcher, sets forth three elements of self-compassion. I shared with you the first one, which is about having self-kindness rather than self-judgment, and how self-judgment can be so harmful and hinder us from being used in the way God intended to use us. The other two elements she presents are mindfulness and common humanity. Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment, and common humanity is the realization that suffering is universal and something that all individuals go through. I plan to discuss these two elements in my upcoming posts and to take my time moving through this important topic of self-compassion. 

The lack of self-compassion is something I see often and have had to work on myself. I thought that I did pretty well in how I talked to and treated myself, but I soon realized that self-judgment happens in very subtle ways. With my chronic migraines, I would often catch myself asking, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so tired? Why can’t I do this or that?” Those may sound like fairly benign questions, but it dawned on me that I was asking them in a judgmental way, that in essence I was asking, “What is wrong with ME?” I realized that I was expecting far more of myself than I could do or give. 

Slowly, over time, I have learned to be kinder and more realistic with myself, and in that process, I have accepted my limitations and learned to have the self-compassion that the Lord so kindly extends towards me. When I suffer, He feels that pain with me. When you suffer, He feels your pain with you. Let’s direct our focus on Him and take in His compassion and love, and together say, “Thank you, Lord, for all that you have done for us.”

I trust and pray that each one of you  reading this will allow yourself to take in God’s compassionate care and love for you. I believe it is often the enemy who interferes with our emotions and thoughts, causing us to be too hard and unrealistic in our expectations of self. As you end the day and lay your head on your pillow tonight, I invite you to pause with me and ask the Lord to help you take in His compassion and love. As we do this, it frees us up to focus on Him and on others and be less occupied with self. We are able to live in the freedom of His love and forgiveness, and share this with those around us.

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