It’s no secret we’re usually harder on ourselves than others. Practicing empathy for ourselves can be liberating, transformational and reap much rewards.
Taking the time to develop a healthy self-understanding is work, but it’s an investment that will pay off. When we peer under the surface of our normal routines and behaviors, we can see spread before us our motivations, our patterns of reaction and instigation, our hopes and fears in relationship.
Once we’ve identified how we’re uniquely wired, we can receive the gift of ourselves with empathy - not demanding perfection, but instead creating room to grow and nurture ourselves.
When I first discovered that I was wired for “Adaptability” (one of 34 CliftonStrengths), I was embarrassed. I cringed at my tendency to abandon plans and projects at a whim, my discomfort towards long-term commitments, and the myopic focus on “now“ at the expense of the future and the past. But what’s exposed can be forgiven, received as a gift, and built up as a strength. Now my (almost uncanny) ability to highlight and help articulate the needs of others in my presence is cherished. My adaptability helps me readjust to changing needs in a pandemic world quite often, with minimal irritation. It also provides a buffer for the constant interruptions by my mostly adorable 9 year old.
Once I began naming my unique wiring as my own, and approached myself with empathy, I began to heal and grow. The way I’m oriented supports the work I do with clients, the relationships I cultivate with my family, and my ability to balance several different job titles and projects.
Empathy is needed for how we relate to ourselves. In the end, all we can offer to the world around us is ourselves, and how we treat ourselves will become the gold standard that everyone else will experience.