Compassion for Ourselves

Related readings before we proceed to this article.


NVC can help you develop compassion for yourself.

Those who have trouble responding with compassion to others often also fail to treat themselves with compassion.

Therefore, we can use NVC to help ourselves grow, rather than reinforcing self-hatred or disapproval.

This turns out to be hardest to do if we’ve made a mistake.

This is when we tend to criticize ourselves, engulf ourselves in self-generated shame, and tell ourselves what you should do or should have done. The typical phrase of along this line would include ‘what-if’ and ‘if-only’.

What about “what if” & “If only”?

Everything that Allah and His Messenger said is truth. The word ‘if’ or ‘if only’ is used in two ways: 

1.To express grief for the past and distress what has been decreed. This is what is not allowed, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: ‘If they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,’ so that Allah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:156]

This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade when he said, “If anything happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such and such, then such and such would have happened.’ Say instead, ‘Qaddar Allaah wa maa sha’a kaan (Allah decreed and what He wills happens), for ‘If only’ opens the door to the Shaytaan (devils)”, i.e., it makes you vulnerable to grief and fear, which is harmful to you and is of no benefit. Know that whatever befalls you, you could not have avoided, and whatever does not happen to you, you could not have made it happen to you, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“No calamity befalls, but by the Leave [i.e. Decision and Qadar (Divine Preordainments)] of Allaah, and whosoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart” 

[al-Taghaabun 64:11]

They said, this is a man to whom calamity happens, but he knows that it is from Allah, so he accepts it and submits. 

2.When the word ‘if’ is used to convey beneficial knowledge, such as the ayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) aalihah (gods) besides Allah, then verily, both would have been ruined” [al-Anbiyaa’ 21:22]

The second type is used to express love for goodness, such as saying, “If only I had what so and so has, I would do what he does.” Saying things like this is permissible.

The hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “If only he [Moses] had had patience, so that Allah would have told us more of what happened between them” is of this nature, as is the ayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“They wish that you should compromise (in religion out of courtesy) with them, so they (too) would compromise with you”

[al-Qalam 68:9]

Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wished that Allah has told us more of their [Moses and al-Khidr] story, and he mentioned that in order to point out his love for patience and the results that come from it, and the benefits that it can bring. There was no element of fear, grief or neglect of the duty of patience in the face of what has been decreed.

Now, lets move back to our main topic of discussion

“People feel safer if we first reveal the feelings and needs within ourselves that are generating the question.”

When we judged ourselves, we should always try to express our “unmet needs” from the present or the past.

And NVC helps us connect with feelings or needs arising from things we’ve done but we now regret.

As we learn from the past, learn to forgive yourself.

Self-forgiveness involves connecting to the need we were trying to meet when we took the action we now regret.

“Our objective is a relationship based on honesty and empathy.”

People often say that they do something because they had to do it.

But if we do things because we feel you must, we’re actually acting out of “fear, guilt, shame or obligation.”

For a better approach, do things that “contribute to life.”

Consider committing ourselves to not doing “anything that isn’t play.” This can be liberating and can add energy to our life.

And if we find ourselves saying that we have to do something, pause and list each action we need to accomplish. Acknowledge that we are choosing to do these things.

Say, “I choose to…” followed by the name of each step you are taking. Identify the desire or need driving our choice.

If we’re doing something for reasons we can’t fully embrace, like for money or approval, STOP.


Categories: Personal Development, Reading Notes

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