Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Prescription: Compassion for Self

I went to see my naturopath yesterday. We talked as we usually do, she checked my pulses and my tongue, and made some suggestions for diet and supplements. She wrote down her instructions and handed me the page.

When I got home, I reviewed her list of instructions. The last item said:

4. Compassion for self

I laughed out loud. What kind of prescription was this? What sort of doctor does this, I asked myself.

Apparently a doctor who cares about her whole patient, who wants her patient to be whole, to feel whole. A doctor who knows that without compassion, all the supplements in the world will still leave her patient lacking. And unless the patient can open her heart to her own self, then all the doctor’s care will be for naught.

How many millions are spent every year on self improvement? We want to do better. We want to be better. What violence do we do to ourselves by judging ourselves as always falling short, never being good enough as we are?

I have listened to people in recent discussions speak of themselves with such self-criticism, such disappointment, such hatred. Condemning themselves to eternal inadequacy, they desperately search for some external answer to their distress, for someone to tell them what to do.

So here is the answer, right on the prescription paper – compassion for self. Just for one moment, take a deep breath, drop all the judgment, and give yourself a smile. Doctor’s orders.

You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. ~Louise L. Hay

18 thoughts on “Prescription: Compassion for Self”

  1. For most of my adult life, I believed I was a guilty,good for nothing, unworthy sinner, not fit to enter the presence of the absolute holy 'one'. We were told that we all fall short of this glory… and that basically our life is an offense to the separate God.I believed this separation theology, with its solution, a belief in a substitutionary atonement, for over 35 years. It produced guilt,fear and a sense of separation from our source of life. I could never get to the divine ideal. To have compassion on yourself was not spoken of, in the fundy teachings, it was very prideful and sinful. Yet, Jesus said 'love your neighbor as yourself'. There is the need to die to the false ego self according to most spiritual teaching but we should love our inner true self. This inner self is linked to the divine Self. This is the Self we should love, it is the same Self in our neighbor. We are all 'one' and we are not separate from our life source. To believe we are separate from source, is to say we are separate from Life….not possible. So, Galen, 'Compassion for Self' is wonderful advice.

  2. Ame, Galen! If God has compassion on us, shouldn't we have it for ourselves? How can we hope to love our neighbors if we can't love ourselves?
    Your doctor is so very wise!
    Blessings, my friend!

  3. Thanks, Brian, for sharing some of your story here. How wonderful that you have transformed your life from one of pain and separation to one of healing and holy union.

  4. Indeed, Laurie. And I have heard it expressed in similar terms from others. Yet our western culture is not one that nurtures self compassion. When we can gently question our conditioning, we might really be able to embrace Jung's question.

  5. It occurs to me, Martha, that this is a great prescription for you, my friend, as you step up to meet the challenges in your family right now. Be sure to care for yourself as you are caring for others.

  6. I wrote about this very thing a week ago, when I realized how self-critical I have been, and I realize this is endemic. I love that your naturopath gave you this prescription! 🙂

  7. Wow, that is a wonderful prescription. It’s just as Jesus said:Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. I think we forget the part of love thyself. To be whole and healthy we do need to have self compassion.
    I find, I do make self judgments too often. If we practise self compassion; perhaps we would even take better care of ourselves.Thanks for this marvelous reminder.
    Loving thoughts, blessings and hugs for you!

  8. The difference was amazing, Galen.It took some time to work through the deprogramming of many decades of indoctrination, but eventually the RTS (Religious Trauma Syndrome) subsided. I became a seeker of truth in these matters for several years and the truth I found set me free. I have in the past couple of years experienced a freedom and love of Life so intense at times that it can only be expressed as 'the peace that passes all understanding' which Jesus talked about. I no longer feel separate from the source of Life. We are all at the core of our being 'Life'. I worship Life. When we experience this inner source of being,the 'I am' presence,we know, like Jesus, that it is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus, Buddha and so many others were pointing to this inner truth. But, instead of following the way that they were pointing to, devotees worshiped the pointer. In Zen they talk about how some worship the finger pointing to the moon, rather then looking directly at the source of life, which is being pointed at.

  9. I'm going to go back and reread your post, DJan. And yes, I couldn't believe that she actually wrote this down in her list of instructions. No wonder I love her so much!

  10. Hopefully this is not a double post..I lost a reply so here it is again…

    Five years ago my Doctor prescribed meditation rather then medication for anxiety which was elevating my blood pressure. When I was going through that RTS period I had great fear, guilt and anxiety. He told me to study meditation in detail , the internet is full of info on the subject… I took his advice. Meditation taught me how to deal with negative thoughts and emotions, by observing without becoming attached to them. I learned to not identify thought, emotion or the body as being my authentic self. This realization was the doorway to freedom and liberation from anxiety, fear and guilt.

    Meditation is the first and last freedom -OSHO

  11. That is interesting, Galen. To meditate results in only positive side effects, but, to medicate results in the risk of negative side effects in most cases. Meditation works so much better then medication when it comes to anxiety because meditation gets to the root of the condition while medication just covers over the symptoms. In the end to medicate for anxiety only compounds the condition.It all has to be dealt with at some point.

  12. I learned to have more compassion for myself when I realised that though my self esteem had always been reasonable, I was always expecting a good deal from myself and when I fell short I was too self-critical and would get pretty conflicted, sort of castigating myself. At first the concept of self-compassion sounded too soft, too indulgent,but when I began looking at myself more closely, I saw it was the self-critical side of me doing the labelling here, and that i didn't really deserve it. So now I try to get the balance right between self compassion and self motivation…lovely post, Galen

  13. That is a great description of the balance — I like your terms self compassion and self motivation. They work together, not at odds with each other. Especially in western culture, self compassion is sometimes seen as you describe it, as too soft or indulgent. But when we are not wasting our energy in self recrimination, we have more energy to devote to life and we are more willing to take risks. Thanks for commenting, Lynne.

  14. Very true, Brian, and sometimes when the need is there they can work together. I have no issue with medication support when appropriate, but as you say, it is not a substitute for meditation.

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