Let's talk about self compassion - What is it, why is it so hard, and how can i start practicing it today?Read Now
What is self compassion?
Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly.
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment? (Dr. Kristen Neff / www.self-compassion.org).
How do I practice self compassion?
How would you treat a friend? How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering?
Change your critical self talk. By acknowledging your self-critical voice and reframing its observations in a more friendly way, you will eventually form the blueprint for changing how you relate to yourself long-term.
Identify what we really want. Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear. Reframing your inner dialogue so that it is more encouraging and supportive helps get you there. (Dr. Kristen Neff / www.self-compassion.org).
Why is self compassion so hard for me?
We may have learned through our environment, school, family, or job that we are not worthy of self compassion. We may not have seen it modeled for us or may have been told that we are not deserving of care.
We may have also been rewarded for achieving big things or being "perfect" and thus learned that our worth is only tied in with being "good." As adults, we know that it is rare that something will actually be perfect, but we stay stuck on the hamster wheel, convinced we must attain the unattainable before we can be kind to ourselves.
Many of us also believe that if we are kind to ourselves, we are being self indulgent and will no longer carry out our responsibilities, complete tasks, or do things well. We may think we will become "lazy." In fact, by speaking negatively to ourselves, criticizing ourselves, and treating ourselves as less than, we block ourselves from truly being the best, most authentic version we can be.
We block our own agency to go after what we want, shy away from new opportunities, create anxiety in our lives by telling ourselves we aren't good enough, and generally create an increased stress load on our minds and bodies. This increased stress can actually cause us to underperform, feel distracted, not complete tasks, feel angry or irritable, and have difficulty connecting to others. It can also lead us to stay in situations that make us unhappy or unfulfilled because we subconsciously believe we don't deserve anything different.
Where do I start with self compassion if it feels so hard?
For many of us, self-compassion is a mountain that seems impossible to climb. So where do we start to begin to alleviate the stressful burden of criticizing ourself?
Neutrality is a step on the road of self compassion. Neutral asks us to simply observe what we are doing and what we are saying to ourselves or about ourselves. Rather than indifference, neutrality is a curiosity that allows us to stay present to what is happening at any moment and start to interrupt the patterns in your brain that taught you that you didn't deserve kindness or that criticism was the only way to motivate you.
Next time you notice that you're criticizing yourself, try this simple activity. Pretend that you are a scientist in a lab or a wildlife expert on safari. Narrate what is happening for you in that moment.
"There she goes again, telling herself that she's terrible at public speaking and is going to mess up this presentation and lose her job."
"Ah yes, she's yet again telling herself she's a bad Mom after looking at Instagram while her baby is eating."
"I'm observing that she is again telling herself she doesn't deserve to have pizza for dinner with her friends because she needs to look good for her wedding."
Notice how it feels to observe with neutrality. Notice how it interrupts your pattern, Over time, this process begins to rewire your brain, taking you out of the old pattern of criticism and shifting you into a curious, nonjudgmental stance. And then, our old friend, self compassion slowly begins to emerge.