I’ve had self-compassion on my mind lately. I gave a workshop to a group of foster parents on the topic last week, and have had a couple of profound conversations with colleagues about being compassionate towards ourselves.
- gives staying power to those in helping professions. It takes a lot of energy to care for people, and sit with them in difficult circumstances. Self-compassion puts energy in…an empty gas tank does no good to anybody
- puts a person in a place where they are calmer and able to be their best selves in a relationship. That positions a person to be able to better calm the child in the middle of a tantrum in the middle of the mall! (and other stressful situations too!)
- provides a means of getting through tough circumstances and coming out the other side
- is more reliable than self esteem to be able to have a person feel good about him/herself.
- Self kindness: talking compassionately, kindly and empathically to yourself like you would talk to a good friend. Sound obvious, huh? Well…let me ask you…if you talked to others liked you talk to yourself after a mistake, would you want to be friends with you? No, me either.
- Mindfulness: Be aware of your experience, and without judgement, express a curiosity to understand the layers of your experience. Is there some sadness underneath the anger? Is part of the sadness something of a grief for a relationship that will never be possible? And being mindful allows us to notice the feelings without becoming over attached to them in a way that has us get “stuck”.
- Common humanity: Suffering is a part of life. For us all. When we suffer, we join others who also suffer. All of us make mistakes. You are not uniquely bad or awful that you also goof up, or struggle with those goofs. Know that you live in a community and in a world who struggles as you do.
Dr. Kristin Neff, the North American guru on self-compassion has a great website with some awesome exercises and guided meditations to experience, as well as a great opportunity to do a brief assessment about your own ability to be self compassion. Are you interested in testing how self compassionate you are?