“With self-compassion we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”
Last week we gave you a little self-love exercise. Hopefully this is still fresh in your mind but if you missed it, just click here and start feeling the love for yourself…
As it’s still ‘Valentines Week’, we thought we’d continue this theme and share some pearls of wisdom about self-compassion from our retreat facilitator Kay Turner. Enjoy…
Self-compassion is an overlooked component of our development process, despite facilitating a profound and long-lasting transformation. Compassion is the precursor to empathy – it’s having sympathy for the misfortunes and difficulties of others. We often pride ourselves in being compassionate to others but remain blind to the lack of compassion we show ourselves.
Kristen Neff describes self-compassion as the ability to relate to ourselves with good will, providing support and comfort. She explains it has three strands;
The first is self-kindness in our thoughts, speech and actions. The second is common humanity, seeing suffering and challenge as universal to being human. The third is mindfulness with feelings – recognising that emotions and thoughts are transient rather than permanent states.
There are many reasons why self-compassion is important for sustaining change and maintaining a happy and healthy life…
- It allows us to face, not run from, suffering and all forms of pain (emotional and physical). Knowing we won’t cast judgement on ourselves allows the pain to fully reveal itself, be acknowledged, heard and finally released. Thus the pain and suffering passes and trust in our ability to weather difficult times increases. We realise the saying ‘this too shall pass’ is a fundamental truth.
- Self-compassion reduces feelings of loneliness and cultivates feelings of oneness. As it grows we recognise we are not alone in feeling the way we do. We feel less ‘odd’, less ‘wrong’ and less ‘inadequate’; connection is felt within the body, mind and heart and our relationships improve. These are essential ingredients for health and happiness.
- Finally, self-compassion strengthens and empowers us to take risks. As our own best friend we realise we are enough and have everything we need within ourselves to feel good. This eliminates unhealthy habits and relationships which we can then clearly identify as no longer serving us.
So, how do we cultivate this amazing health and happiness giving attitude? Here are 3 ways to get you started:
- Think of an issue which triggers feelings of shame, inadequacy or insecurity within you (that feeling of not being enough). Write an uncensored paragraph about how you feel about it. Now write a letter to yourself addressing this from the position of a loving, kind and compassionate friend. You become the friend who knows every little thing about you – the friend who loves and cares for you always. This friend accepts you exactly as you are in every moment and offers great wisdom, comfort and hope. Read the letter back to yourself several times and allow the compassionate response to be fully felt within you.
- Do a loving kindness meditation. Sit comfortably and bring yourself into the present moment by focusing on your breath. Gently place your hand on your heart or on a part of your body which is experiencing pain. Ensure your touch is tender. Then close your eyes and repeat some loving kindness mantras; ‘may I live with ease, may I be kind, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe’. These are some ideas to get you started.
- Physically surround yourself with self-compassion. Wrap a big cosy blanket around you and gently hug yourself whilst repeating ‘I accept myself’.
As with all things, the more you practise self-compassion the more this is reinforced within the mind, body and heart.
As your self-compassion grows, health and happiness become the norm. You no longer feel alone or look externally to others or things to feel good. You realise you have all you need within you.
You are enough…