4 ways to practice self-compassion
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” –Jack Kornfield
Practicing compassion isn’t always an easy task (being totally honest here… it’s especially tough for me to practice compassion towards myself). Are you nodding in assent? Is it difficult for you too? I’ve been there.
When we are triggered emotionally, we tend to move into…
A state of judgment rather than one of understanding.
A state of defense rather than one of empathy.
These are natural responses. I get it.
And then there are times when we move away from compassion because we think it means to pity or to excuse. It really doesn’t.
“You can have compassion for yourself-which is not self-pity. You’re simply recognizing that ‘this is tough, this hurts,’ and bringing the same warmhearted wish for suffering to lessen or end that you would bring to any dear friend grappling with the same pain, upset, or challenges as you.” –Rick Hanson
Having compassion means that…
- You open your heart up.
- You offer someone understanding & kindness rather than judgment & criticism when they ‘fail’ or make mistakes.
- You finally realize that imperfection, suffering, and ‘failure’ are all part of our shared human experience (you understand universal emotions).
Side note: For me, ‘failure’ is just information about what works and what doesn’t, so I can move forward with newfound knowledge and create new pathways.
Getting back to it…
Through the practice of compassion, we can begin to recognize and respond to another’s pain or suffering. And we can begin to recognize our own.
Self-Compassion is… honoring & accepting your humanness.
- Our best laid-out plans won’t always work out (and that’s ok).
- We’ll make mistakes, encounter frustration, and endure losses (and we can handle it… even if it momentarily feels like we can’t).
The more you embrace this shared reality (of loss, pain, and frustration), instead of fighting against it, the more you’ll feel inner peace and compassion for yourself & others.
Self-Compassion is… accepting that the moment is painful.
- It’s noticing our emotions. (“This hurts. This is difficult.”)
- It’s responding with kindness. (“What can I do to comfort myself & grow from this?”)
- It’s the quality of allowing, of being gentle with yourself (without needing to fix, repair, suppress, or ‘get over it’).
When we notice our emotions and accept the pain, we GET to bring in…
So that we may in turn…
Bear the pain.
Become more resilient.
Set ourselves up for growth.
Self-Compassion is… feeling your feelings.
- Breathing through whatever emotions arise (instead of trying to push them away… I’ve tried that quite unsuccessfully.).
- Leading yourself through your breath as you reach a place of inner peace (and allowing yourself to stay there for a while).
Self-compassion is… giving ourselves what we need in the moment.
- Perhaps it’s distance and space (temporarily stepping back).
- Or it’s engaging in the acts of self-care that we crave (a walk in the park, a moment in silence, a call with a friend, a cup of tea…).
- It’s asking: “How can I take care of myself in this moment?”
Whenever I’m undergoing emotional rides, I remember to approach myself with love. Instead of working myself up, I look for a place of peace and open up space for self-love (a hug, a smile, some alone time…).
Cultivating a compassionate practice starts with YOU.
- What does compassion toward yourself look like?
- When things go wrong or when you lose control, are you compassionate towards yourself or do you grow angry, frustrated, or get stuck?
As your loving cheerleader (and joy strategist!), here are some ways you can cultivate self-compassion:
#1: Listen to your mental chatter
Become aware of your thoughts.
Get curious around them instead of judgmental.
What are the thoughts signaling to? What can you learn from them?
#2: Turn your negative, critical thoughts into sentences of self-compassion.
It’s about giving ourselves the same kindness we would give to a great friend.
When you notice an unkind thought towards yourself, ask, “Would I say that to my best friend or to a child?”
If the answer is no, “what would you say to them instead?”
Tap into that scenario and shift your words.
#3: Gift yourself a moment
Take a pause, get outside, and breathe some fresh air.
Breathe. Breathe again. And as many times as necessary.
Momentarily remove yourself from the situation.
Engage in acts of self-care. (As many as necessary!!)
#4: Carry out acts of kindness
One kind action a day is a way we can practice compassion towards others and ourselves.
With each of us choosing to practice kind acts, we can add to the wholeness and harmony of life.
“Be softer with you.
You are a breathing thing.
A memory to someone.
A home to a life.”