Here are three things that commonly get in the way of holding a compassionate voice toward ourselves (and others):

Judgments: If we have an idea of the “best” way to do something, of course we’ll fall short. Instead, what if we let go of “right” and “wrong,” “better” or “worse,” and just see that what is underneath is just fine.

Hurt/Shame: If we’re holding on to some hurt feelings (especially shame, the feeling of being disgraced or humiliated – that one has a lot of barbs to it), we might react harshly toward ourselves. If we can accept and allow our feelings just as they are, maybe even love and care for them, we’ll be able to respond with a softer, kinder tone.

Expectations: High or rigid expectations about how things “should” or “need to” go make us feel like we’ve failed if something unexpected happens. In truth, this doesn’t mean we’ve failed at all – it just means our expectations were not met. We can respond by chastising ourselves, or we can respond by recognizing where the mismatch happened, and set a more realistic or flexible expectation next time.