When I discuss mettas with people who are interested in learning but have never tried them, invariably they expect that wishing good thoughts to others will be the most difficult part. Then they are surprised to find that wishing good thoughts to themselves is often just as hard, if not harder. Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves? Well, from an early age we’re taught to shine in school and extracurricular activities, to be accepted into the best possible university, to land the perfect job, and so on. While it’s good to push ourselves to strive to be better, there’s also a downside to that, as many of us don’t know the difference between better and perfect. Since we’re not perfect, we set about punishing ourselves for our real or perceived flaws. At its best this can lead to anxiety and depression. At its worst, this can lead to self-loathing. So, how can we continue to self-motivate, to strive to be better, without causing ourselves harm?
First, make a list of specific behaviors or characteristics that you feel define who you “should” be. We’ll review that list in an upcoming blog.