Cultivating Self-Compassion; Quieting my Inner Critic

I’ve been a perfectionist since young, and I didn’t use to think much about how this could do more harm than good in the long run. I remember getting terribly upset with myself whenever I made a careless mistake in my schoolwork. I’m actually very fortunate to have parents who never concerned themselves much with schoolwork, but I think I was never quite satisfied with my academic grades, or in anything I did, really.  I myself was my harshest critic.
As years went by, my unmet goals accumulated, and oh boy, was I pretty much an unhappy kid. But along the way, I somehow enrolled myself in psychology in uni. So did yoga – my friend asked to accompany her to try out a class, and I was hooked. In psychology, there’s a recent mindfulness movement, which advocates embracing a nonjudgmental and compassionate inward awareness of ourselves. In yoga, we’re encouraged to let go of our ego, let go of the outcome, and just move with the breath. I grew to like yoga as it’s not about competition; it’s more about embracing one’s true self. I guess this sums up how my journey of consciously cultivating self-compassion started.
To me, self-compassion is ahimsa/non-violence. When we’re able to forgive ourselves, and accept ourselves as we are, we are practicing ahimsa toward ourselves.
Self-compassion is also important in clearing blockages in our Anahata/heart chakra. When we love ourselves unconditionally, we will naturally love others unconditionally too.
Looking back, I realised I no longer ruminate on my little setbacks. I’m now a more confident person than I used to be, for I’m less concerned with appearing “perfect” to others. I still have perfectionistic tendencies, for old habits die hard, but I’m just glad I’ve come thus far.
YY (200hr Hatha/Ashtanga, Jul/Aug 2015)

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