How Loving Myself Helps Me to Love Others

12/06/2013 01:26 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2014

It's funny how it's the little things that remind us of the people we love. Like last night, when I was slicing potatoes to make French fries.

When my dad makes French fries, he slices the potatoes very thin so they get real crispy in the oven. He is having some health issues right now, so here I was, standing in the kitchen slicing potatoes, smiling with tears streaming down my face.

Maintaining self-compassion is difficult for me during these times. My immediate reaction is, "Get it together! Your kids and husband are going to ask you why you are crying."

Now that I am practicing self-compassion, I stop and ask myself, why would that be a bad thing? Why not tell them the exact reason? That I love my dad, and being reminded of the way he makes French fries brings me happiness, but it also makes me sad because he is not feeling well.

Self-compassion is acknowledging and accepting my hurt without judgment of myself. If we judge ourselves so quickly for our own heartfelt emotions, how can we expect to be there for another in need without judgment? When we are there fully for ourselves, we can truly be there fully for another.

I read that having self-compassion is like treating yourself as a loving mother would treat her child. So, right now, I'm giving myself a comforting and fully enveloping hug like a loving mother would. In her protective embrace, I am able to feel all of my emotions without judgment, whatever they may be.

Then, after I have acknowledged all of my emotions, I lift up my chin and look at myself in the mirror with caring, compassionate eyes, as a loving mother would look at her child. I tell myself that my heart is good and it is full of love (if you have never looked yourself in the mirror and spoken lovingly to yourself, try it -- It is very powerful). This allows me to let my inner judgments go, and I am then able to be present and compassionate for myself and for others.

Our thoughts and emotions are our own. No one has the power to create our thoughts or emotions or change them. We are our own captain of how we react to situations or internalize them. Certainly people can influence us, but ultimately, we make the final decision. In my experience, when I allow myself to feel and acknowledge what is happening within me, the more I'm able to step back and decide what emotions are most useful to myself, and to others.

If I bury my emotions and try to smother and not feel them, they always find a way to emerge, and not to my benefit. I become angry and judgmental of others, because, internally I am angry and judgmental of myself, as I am not allowing myself to take ownership of what emotions are truly inside.

Give yourself the gift of a loving hug, and acknowledge your emotions without judgment. Every step I take on this self-compassion journey, I realize more and more, when I am compassionate with myself, the more I'm able to be compassionate with others.

It is a very fulfilling way to live.