Blog Posts

Compassion without condition

This likely is going to be a bad blog post.

The title won’t be much of a hook. Or it will be too clickbait-y.

Some of my paragraphs will be too long, the lines wending on and on, swallowing up more of the screen than I had planned. Your eyeballs will wander when they see how much text I’m throwing at them.

Or my paragraphs won’t be long enough, and all your eyes will focus on is the vast swaths of white on the webpage background until, irritated, you decide to click away.

Those are the worries I’m having about this blog post before I even get to the actual content.

I keep writing, though, in spite of my awareness of the relative mediocrity this post will fall into. I’m not a professional blogger, nor do I have any special credentials when it comes to creating outstanding online content. I’m just a typical internet user.

What helps me keep going through all these obvious fears, doubts, and not-so-appealing realities of writing this blog is . . . the point of this blog itself–the ideas of unconditional self-acceptance and self-compassion. (Although I wasn’t expecting my introductory post to be quite so meta.)

Imagine you’re growing a plant. I have a succulent staring back at me as I write this, so let’s say it’s a succulent. Now, instead of watering this plant and giving it sunlight and ensuring that it’s planted in the right kind of soil, I yell at it. 24/7. In addition, I decide that if the succulent doesn’t reach a certain height within a ridiculously short amount of time, I’m going to cut it down and search for another plant.

The succulent is doomed.

Hopefully this sounds pretty absurd. Unfortunately, though, this is what us humans have to put up with–from ourselves.

We put contingencies on our acceptability, our level of “enoughness,” and promptly attack ourselves, believing this is the best strategy for personal growth and wellbeing. (In the opening chapters of her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach drives a similar point home in much more eloquent language.)

This blog will look at an alternative: looking at yourself as being unconditionally enough, and also allow yourself without condition to be compassionate and kind towards yourself.

You don’t need this blog. At least, in the sense that you don’t need anything to ensure you’re acceptable, including a blog saying you’re acceptable, because your self-acceptance can be present all the time, throughout your life. Nothing this blog offers or suggests is something you must do.

By no means am I saying you shouldn’t do anything with your life.

That would, after all, be imposing another “should” on your life. I can attest that, because of my depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, I have spent spans of multiple days doing nothing but eating junk food, sleeping, showering, and Googling various phrases as a compulsion to (in vain) relieve my obsessive thoughts. Those have been miserable experiences I hope to never re-live. But did they at any point make me any less than enough? Did they somehow mean I no longer deserved compassion from myself, just because I wasn’t being productive or committing to any of my values?

Indeed, using the concepts of unconditional self-acceptance and self-compassion are what helped me get back on-track with my values after having those troubles with OCD and depression. Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers once spoke on the seeming contradiction between accepting yourself and wanting to change and grow as a person.

This blog will explore all the aspects of life–and there are too many of them to list out here without exhausting your eyes–where shifting the paradigm towards self-acceptance and self-compassion would make such an impact for you.

None of the ideas presented in this blog are coming out of a vacuum. Indeed, I owe most of this blog to a single post from 2008 in Psychology Today by Dr. Leon Seltzer called “The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance,” and on the research of self-compassion pioneer Dr. Kristen Neff, whose website I can’t recommend enough. With all my posts, I’ll be citing the research of experts in psychology. It’s not like I would trust one random internet user’s opinions on these topics to be acceptable. Rather, what I’m hear to do is to bring awareness of these ideas to more people and to share my experiences with those concepts so that you’re able to get a more concrete look at them in practice.

Again, you don’t need this blog.

But if you’re ready to start a fundamentally new way of looking at yourself, one that gives you a sense of no longer being afraid to, well, live, then read on.

(P.S.: for another incredible examination of the basic philosophy behind unconditional self-acceptance–with some aspects of self-compassion present in it as well–I absolutely can’t recommend this article by cognitive behavioral therapist Dr. Russell Grieger in Psychology Today enough.)