Indulgence, criticism and compassion

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Developing our compassionate voice or inner self can be tricky for all kinds of reasons. One of them being the way other aspects of our inner world can kind of sound a lot like compassion but are something else.

It’s pretty common for me to revert to a more indulgent voice or aspect when seeking for a compassionate approach to myself or a situation. You know the one – ‘Hey Ben, it’s ok, take it easy, you deserve that beer/lazy afternoon watching films. What’s the big deal anyway? You need some time out to do something a little naughty but nice!’- Its a voice that I easily mistake for compassion.

On the other side is a more punitive and pretty harsh voice that motivates me to stay away from such things by scare tactics- ‘If you have that beer you will be proving yourself to be weak and out of control! You should go for a run instead!’- This voice is recognisable by words like ‘should’ and a harsh tone.

Sometimes my compassionate voice seems strong enough to mitigate these voices and take them down the spectrum of harshness or overindulgence to a kinder more genuinely supportive place. But often it’s not really strong enough to stand out of the shadows and speak for itself. So herein lies the practice; to keep reconnecting with that part of me that can motivate from a place of deep love and understanding.

‘Dear One, beloved Ben

I know how you care about drinking less, it’s important to you. I deeply care that you take actions that support your wellbeing. But I know it can be hard to change habits. We can do this together, you are not alone. Whatever happens I love you. Having a drink doesn’t make you a bad person and yet you don’t sleep so well and your next day is affected and I would love for you to have a fulfilled and energised day’.

So this voice is neither indulgent or critical. Its power comes from how it cares and sees the struggles of change and growth without judgment or ambivalence. It offers a path of growth through love. The only real sustainable path of change.

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