If you work with me for any period of time there is a strong likelihood that you will learn about the concept of and practice of self-compassion. Self-compassion involves offering yourself understanding and kindness, similar to how you would treat others if they were to make a mistake or be suffering in some way.
Some of the most thoughtful and generous people lack being non-judgmental and harsh with themselves. It can be much easier to understand someone else’s experience, allow their pain to take up space, and truly know that others’ imperfections do not mean that they are a failure. But when was the last time you treated yourself with such gentleness?
Many of you hold strict rules and high expectations for yourselves and your feelings that deny a truly human experience. Especially if you were raised in a CEN household, it is likely that you judge yourself in a similar way that your parent(s) would have which results in feeling a lot of shame or punishing yourself with extra work, reduced self-care, or even isolation.
Deep down, we do care about ourselves, but sometimes the messaging from the most influential people in your early life, or sometimes, the lack thereof, can lead us to place blame and cause frustration with the most important person in your life – you.
Three elements of self-compassion include:
-Practicing self-kindness instead of self-judgment. Self-compassion is being understanding towards ourselves when we fail or feel inadequate, rather than criticizing or ignoring the pain we feel. Accepting that we may not always be what we want and to be gentle when painful experiences are brought up or lived.
-Recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience. We all go through feeling vulnerable or making mistakes. Be aware of a sense of isolation, as if “I” were the only person feeling imperfect.
-Observing negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is non-judgmental in nature where one can observe thoughts and feelings simply as they are, without holding back or denying them. This is balanced by the notion and awareness of putting our own situation into a larger perspective.
To practice self-compassion, mindfully accept that the moment is painful and embrace yourself with kindness and care. Remember, imperfection is part of being human. Hold yourself in love and connection. Give yourself the support and comfort that you need while looking for opportunities for growth. If you feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions as you practice, be self-compassionate in your response to yourself by taking a step back, focusing on your breath, plant your feet on the ground, and tune into the environment around you. With intention and practice, your relationship with yourself will grow in a beautiful way.