Are you compassionate toward yourself?

Karen Armstrong, former nun and author of 20 books, thinks the world needs more compassion.

When she was awarded the 2008 TED prize, she decided to use her award money to develop a Charter for Compassion and then to join with people worldwide to “put ourselves in the shoes of the other.”

Armstrong explains how each of us can work to cultivate our capacity for compassion in her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.

One of the most important steps, she emphasizes, is to be compassionate toward ourselves.

“Yet it is not easy to love ourselves,” she writes. “In our target-driven, capitalist Western societies, we are more inclined to castigate ourselves for our shortcomings and become inordinately cast down by any failure to achieve our objectives and potential.”

Feel compassion for “your conflicted, struggling self,” because, if you treat yourself harshly, you are likely to treat others harshly, too, Armstrong suggests.

“Once you have started to feel a genuine compassion for yourself, you will be able to extend it to others.”

We’ll write more about Armstrong’s call for compassion in our next blog post. You also can find more about the Charter for Compassion at www.charterforcompassion.org.

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