Common Humanity vs. Isolation
How many times have you comforted a loved one who has made a mistake saying “Come on, you’re only human.” One of the key elements of self-compassion is the awareness of our common humanity. The mere fact that we are human beings means that we are imperfect and mortal. The emotion of compassion is interactive and stems from our recognition that feelings of imperfection mortality are universal.
Translated, word compassion literally means “to suffer with” which indicates empathy and mutuality in the experience of suffering. For example, grief different people feel when they lose a loved one is the same grief, although the circumstances of grief are different. The core experience of suffering is universal.
However, we often tend to forget that ‘no man is an island’ and that we have a lot in common with others. It is often hard to take the bigger human picture into account when you are in the midst of a painful experience.
So, instead of understanding our flaws, mistakes or suffering in the light of common humanity, we have a tendency to feel isolated and disconnected from others when we make mistakes, suffer or fail. This is not a rational thought process but rather an irrational feeling.
Studies show that isolation and loneliness are particularly common in teens and young adults. Many teenagers tend to avoid social interaction due to shame, depression or the feeling of inadequacy. Isolation and loneliness result in a wide range of psychological symptoms such as anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, or other mental health concerns.
Understanding of Common Humanity
For example, if you are going through a harsh break-up, you may tend to think that you are the only one who is being dumped and that no one has ever suffered so greatly. Your emotional pain is intense and you may feel that you are the only person going through a painful experience. All people suffer, though. Thus, self-compassion means recognizing that suffering is the something we all go through – a part of collective human experience.
We tend to think that we’re bound to be happy and that things in our lives are supposed to go well. And when they don’t, we have a tendency to think that something has gone terribly wrong.
Self-compassion and consciousness of common humanity will allow you to be more understanding and forgiving to yourself. It will empower you to overcome self-judgment and accept your shortfalls as a normal part of shared human experience.
When you recognize this reality of shared humanity, you will be more likely to accept your failings and flaws as part of universal experience and to be kind and more understanding to yourself. This will boost your self-acceptance, increase your self-worth, and improve your overall well-being. Finally, self-compassion will help you silence your inner critic and release the unforgiving self-judgment that prevents you from thriving and attracting positive things in life.