“You’ve made your bed and now you must lie in it.”
This is one of the most un-compassionate phrases we can use to ourselves or to others. Usually it means it’s time to pay for your choices and you can expect no sympathy from me.
Of course we need to take responsibility for our choices but, as I point out in my book Kindfulness, we also need to remember that our choices are not entirely free. Our lives are also influenced by certain conditions, and these have accumulated over years, often outside our control.
For instance if you have little or no money, then choosing to go to live in another city where accommodation is expensive represents a far more difficult choice than choosing to stay at home.
Another example: If your parents are farmers, your conditions and choices will be very different to what they would be if your parents were rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Choices are also influenced by factors we’re unaware of at the time, such as the wiles of marketing. The marketeers know where to place goods so that you are more likely to buy them and what music to have on in the background to nudge you towards handing over your cash or your card.
This isn’t about denying responsibility for your actions. It is about recognising that you are a human being who has to juggle choices and conditions with no knowledge of what the future holds – quite a demand! In that very human situation, self-compassion may be just as valid as self-criticism as you go about dealing with consequences.
Kindfulness – be a true friend to yourself with mindful self-compassion, is published by Yellow Kite Books on 28th June 2018