compassion – com = with, passion = emotion/feeling – to be able to stay present with an emotion or feeling, potentially without having to judge it, block it or overly engage with it.
Self-compassion recognizes with tenderness that there is inherent pain and difficulty in life and offers self-support and self-kindness to be able to experience the grief and loss and go through it to the other side, learning at least some of the lessons the difficulty has to teach. Self-pity views difficulty as an affront, feels like a victim, and wallows righteously in resentment and anger towards self and others, often effectively blocking the learning inherent in the difficulty and inadvertently causing the self-fulfilling prophesy of having to be taught the same lessons over and over again.
Often we vacillate between either getting stuck in self pity or trying to convince ourselves we should feel okay about things we are not really okay with. There is a middle ground, where we can feel what is uncomfortable without having to get stuck in it, where we can recognize that sometimes what we go through is hard without feeling sorry for ourselves, beating ourselves up, or trying to make everything alright. Where we can stay present with the experience of our pain and allow it to integrate. And as we gain perspective, maybe not have to learn the same lesson again.