Most of us from a young age are taught to be kind, considerate, and compassionate toward others. However, our education rarely includes the lessons to show the same consideration to ourselves. This is even more of a deficit for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes. What is Self-Compassion? Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist […]
Most of us from a young age are taught to be kind, considerate, and compassionate toward others. However, our education rarely includes the lessons to show the same consideration to ourselves. This is even more of a deficit for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist psychology and refers to how we can relate to ourselves with kindness and love in times of suffering. Self-compassion or self-love is NOT to be confused with arrogance or selfishness. Actually, arrogance and selfishness stem from the absence of self-love.
What does it really mean to be kind to ourselves? It means that we are mindful of being courteous, supportive, and compassionate with ourselves on a daily basis. Too many people treat themselves with harsh judgment instead of compassion.
Why is this important? Self-compassion means that we always feel like we have a friend with us. It helps us recognize our unconditional worth and value. It allows us to recognize though we may sometimes make bad decisions, we’re not bad people.
Research, over the past decade, has shown the parallel between self-care and psychological wellbeing. Those who practice self-compassion tend to have better connections with others and have higher life satisfaction overall. Self-compassion also correlates with less shame, anxiety, and depression.
Now that you know the what and why of self-compassion, let’s look at the how.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
Most of us would never harshly judge or belittle a small child the way we do ourselves. You would only want to help and love that child. When you begin to treat yourself as you would a small child, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness, and kindness.
Every minute your mind is handling millions of bits of information, though you consciously are only aware of a few of them. This is to say we all have patterns of attending to specific information that we have developed to simplify our data processing. These scripts or programs are running in our minds 24/7 to make us efficient and productive.
Many of these scripts are fear-based. They were developed early on to try to keep us out of trouble. However, some of these scripts, like the ones that tell us how “bad” or “unlovable” we are, are not really helping. The way to quiet these scripts is to become more aware of your own mind.
When you begin to have a feeling or reaction to something, stop and ask yourself what is this feeling or thought trying to tell me or warn me about? Is this a helpful response in this moment or an old program being triggered? If it’s a program, thank the program for trying to help, let it know that you have new skills with which to face this problem, and release it.
Good Will vs Good Feelings
Self-compassion is a conscious act of kindness we show ourselves when we are suffering; it’s not a way to alleviate emotional pain. Life happens, and we can’t always avoid negative or sad feelings. Never mistake self-compassion as a tool to ignore your deep and rich emotional life. Self-compassion provides comfort when you are hurting. Like rocking a colicky baby, self-compassion doesn’t make the pain go away, but it feels better to feel loved and held while we are hurting.
These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you feel that you could use more support and tools, reach out to me today to schedule a free therapy consultation.