Self-Compassion: It Just Can’t Be Taught

Learning to love yourself so that your children might do the same

By Stéphanie Bringloe

We’ve all been there. In the middle of getting ready on any given morning, we stop and look at ourselves in the mirror. It’s only when our gaze makes its way up to our face that we realize we’ve been frowning the entire time we were cataloging our bodies.

Growing up, we were taught to be coy and humble, so much so that it was entirely impossible to accept a compliment given, let alone giving one to ourselves. It wasn’t proper to love ourselves, doing so felt like vanity. In fact, it was in fashion to have entire conversations where we would compare and talk about the things we hate about ourselves. We used to bond over our self-hatred, because it was something we almost always had in common.

Luckily, the conversation has shifted since then. There is so much literature and talk about self-love, self-compassion and the practice of having a positive inner dialogue. Each of us are learning to undo years of automatically negative vocabulary which permeated our self-image and replacing it with new, kinder words.

Nonetheless, though we are part of this shift towards self-compassion, when we look at ourselves in the mirror on any given morning, it can be hard to find gentler things to tell ourselves and unlearn all that we have been taught.

When we parent our children, wanting what is best for them, we try to save them from having such a hard time loving themselves. We want their inner dialogue to be positive and we want them to be proud of their bodies and intellect. Our reflex then initially tells us to shower them with compliments. “You are beautiful, you are kind, you are worthy,” in hope that they will innately believe it.

But here’s the kicker: those are the words we should be saying to ourselves, first.

How can they learn about self-compassion if they see us do the opposite? How can we truly and genuinely teach them how to have a positive-inner dialogue when it is absent in our own self-talk? The truth is that they have to see us tell ourselves “I am beautiful, I am kind, I am worthy.” They have to witness this self-compassion, so that they will know how to do it themselves.

If we want to teach our children about self-love, they need to see it in the people around them. That is one lesson that simply cannot be taught; it has to be imitated, mimicked, and emulated.

So, next time you are in front of the mirror on any given morning, notice the little person watching you from the corner of the room. Unfurrow your brow, take a breath, and work hard to dismantle the negativity that took root in your thoughts all those years. Look up, smile, and pose with confidence before saying to yourself “looking good Momma!” Your little ones will learn to
do the same, and grow up knowing how to be kind to themselves, all because of the hard work you will have put into being kind to yourself.


About the writer, Stephanie Bringloe

Stephanie is first and foremost a mom of two (ages 3 and 5) and is married to her high school sweetheart. Together they live in the beautiful Annapolis Valley (Greenwood area) and she spends much of her free time harnessing her creativity in various ways such as writing, watercolour, sewing, piano and embroidery. Stephanie is a huge believer in positive parenting and has her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. To connect with Stephanie you can find her on Facebook.


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