Face down

Sharing – Other People Don’t Think You’re a Mess

I think the experiments discussed in the article below are, in one way obvious, but at the same time, also enlightening.

How many times have we all talked about how much more grace and forgiveness we extend to other people who make mistakes, but not to our own mistakes? Of course, one of the reasons we do that is an assumption that other people see us as flawed and “a mess”, because that’s how many of us see ourselves.

Of course, if we thought about that for just a minute, we’d realize that if all of these people who we believe see us as a mess, even though we don’t see them as one, a lightbulb might just click. If the global “we” are harder on ourselves than we are on other people, why would other people feel the opposite way about you?

It really doesn’t make a lot of sense, we know people don’t pay as much attention to our faults as we think they do, we know people, in general, are more forgiving of other people than themselves, and yet we also fall into the trap of thinking other people see us as a mess.

So, that makes sense, but this was the part that I really wanted to share, the importance of self-compassion.

“As predicted, people who don’t have a lot of compassion for themselves evaluated an admission of their own mistake more negatively than when they imagined others who took the same step. Highly self-compassionate study participants, on the other hand, did not fall prey to this beautiful mess effect. In their evaluations, the difference in how they viewed displays of vulnerability in themselves versus others was significantly smaller than in people lacking self-compassion.”

The key is to have some compassion for yourself, similar to the compassion you might have for someone else in a vulnerable situation. When you can do that, suddenly what the other person does isn’t as important, you’ve given yourself grace, and acceptance.

As childhood abuse survivors, of course, this is tricky. Self-compassion is not generally one of our strengths. How could it be? All our lives we’ve been told that bad things happen either to bad people, or for a reason, and we’ve had something horrible happen to us, so we must be broken in some way to have had that experience. Didn’t we all think that way at one point or another? How could we not?

How do we get past that, and have compassion for ourselves? That’s the tricky part and it’s the part that starts with accepting that what happened was not only not our fault, but has absolutely nothing to say about our own value and abilities. We weren’t abused because of something in our character that made us vulnerable or “asked for it”. Who we are, and were, had nothing to do with it then, and what happened then has nothing to say about who we are now.

We are 100% worth the same compassion we feel for others. It is well past time to see that about yourself.


Similar Posts


  1. Such an important thing “to have some compassion for yourself, similar to the compassion you might have for someone else”. Even at age 70-1/2, I had occasion to work on this very thing just yesterday.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.