Having compassion for ourselves is, at least in theory, no different to having compassion for other people. Yet, we really aren’t very good at it!
How would you respond if your best friend or loved one lost their job, went through a breakup or gained a few pounds during lockdown because they enjoyed a few more beverages and snacky snacks? I’m sure in most cases it wouldn’t be with harsh judgment or pity. You would likely respond with compassion and kindness, because you understand that as humans, we make mistakes, aren’t perfect and sometimes suffer. I’m also hoping that if they felt bad because they had just eaten all the Krispy Kremes you wouldn’t cheer them up with another box, right?
Self-compassion means acting the same way towards ourselves. When we have a difficult time or fail at something instead of beating ourselves up or ignoring the problem, we can show self-kindness and ask ourselves “how can I deal with this problem in a way that serves me long-term?”
Self-compassion has 3 elements:
2. Common humanity
Recognising that we can fail, be imperfect and face difficulties and being gentle with ourselves when these things arise help us to get through them. Fighting against your reality or ignoring it will ultimately only lead to further suffering. Give yourself a break sometimes (just not a get out of jail free card).
All humans have their own inadequacies and imperfections (even those people you see in the gym that you might envy with their great genes). We all go through hard times yet we can often feel we are suffering alone and the world is conspiring against us and us alone.
Mindfulness allows us to accept our feelings and thoughts for what they are. We don’t need to suppress negative feelings and emotions, nor do we need to exaggerate them. We can’t ignore our emotional pain and have compassion for it. At the same time, we don’t want to fixate on our thoughts or become over-identified with our emotions. Using mindfulness to simply observe our thoughts and feelings goes some way to achieving this.
Which of these 3 elements do you think you could address first?
As you might be able to see, self-compassion has many benefits. In summary self-compassion can help people:
• Perform better and not choke under pressure (going to meltdown at the buffet) anyone?)
• Become more resilient and bounce back from setbacks (so you had a meltdown at the buffet, its not the end of the world).
• Feel less depressed or anxious.
• Become more satisfied with life.
• Learn, grow and develop more effectively.
Sounds good to me! What can you do today to have a little more self-compassion?
Stephen – Coach