4 Ways to Practice Self Compassion

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January 28, 2021

How do we define self compassion? Well, self compassion can be defined as a practice of noticing our suffering and in response offering love, kindness and understanding to one’s self. Simply put it is the act of opening your heart rather than shutting down or abandoning yourself when inevitable challenges and frustration come to the surface. I write this post passionately because this practice has changed my life and my approach to working with other people. It is not perfect, that’s why I like to define it as a practice. Self compassion often comes with resistance, naturally. Many of us live in a black and white world where we’re taught and conditioned to believe that failing is “bad” and succeeding is “good.” How do we even define what it means to fail and what it means to succeed? That’s for another time… Leaning into this work creates a “grey” area and helps us to shift the lens through which we perceive ourselves and others; ultimately changing the way we see and show up in the world. It’s quite magical if you ask me.

You might be thinking “ Okay, so it’s a practice of being nicer to myself? I’m pretty nice already,” or “What does this even mean, sounds good but how do I actually integrate this into my life?’

Keep reading 🙂

In many sessions, I hear a ton of resistance to this practice.

“What if I’m so self compassionate that I become complacent?”

“What if I am overly self compassionate and I eat brownies for breakfast lunch and dinner and gain weight?”

“What if my inner critic keeps me safe from disappointment, how could I possible be self compassionate?”

“My negative voice motivates me! I can’t give that up, no pain to gain baby. “

Overall, the main form of resistance I often hear and have felt myself is “if I’m kinder to myself I won’t be as successful in this life.” This practice is not here stop us from living our lives to the fullest and accessing our highest potential, rather to help us eliminate the pain and shame we subconsciously inflict upon ourselves as we try to learn, grow and do our thing in this life. The inner critic that often “motivates” us is the same voice that creates demotivation, low sense of self worth and pure exhaustion.

This resistance serves a purpose and the negative thoughts or emotions we experience as humans are not all bad, in fact they create energy leading us to the next lesson, success or challenge. Self compassion simply dials down the intensity of the negative thoughts or emotions we experience in response to upsetting events or negative experiences.

I would go as far as to say resistance is beautiful! -unpacking discomfort gives us insight into our authentic selves! You feel fearful of giving up your negative voice because it motivates you? Great. That might mean you are a hard working person, who values a strong work ethic and doing your best. The cool part, you can have both. We can listen to our authentic selves and utilize self compassion, in fact this practice creates more space for our most raw beautiful selves to shine through.

Here are some ways to start your practice

1. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love and deeply care for.

This helps us become aware of our story, when you experience a set back how do you talk to yourself? Whether it be a break up, a work issue, feeling stuck or frustrated- we are so quick to compare ourselves to the collective and rip ourselves to shreds unconsciously. For example, maybe your feeling lost at work, you might find yourself comparing yourself to your friends and their jobs.

examples of your inner critic entering beast mode:

“ you’re a failure”

“ they have it figured out, why don’t I?”

“there is something wrong with me.”

“I should have known better.”

Now, maybe take a minute to ask yourself the last time you came down hard on yourself.

  • What happened? Record your immediate thoughts.

  • Now ask yourself, would you ever say those thoughts to your best friend, child, mother, beloved partner?

  • What would you say to the person you care for most who might be going through a similar situation? Would you offer support, kindness, active listening, space to vent and feel, or would offer them criticism and judgement?

  • Is there a double standard? How come ?

2. Self Reflection at the beginning and end of each day.

This is also a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your day, simply day. Check in with yourself!

  • Identify 1-2 short term goals for the day.

  • What is driving your goals?

  • Why do you deserve to reach your goals? (because you are worthy, hint hint)

  • At the end of the day you might want to ask yourself:

    • What was great about today?

    • What am I proud of?

    • How can I improve tomorrow ?

3. Give yourself some grace, make space for being human.

Suffering is a part of the human experience. We create more suffering for ourselves when we try to avoid the suffering. Self compassion can be used beautifully to validate and recognize human experiences as they arise. Giving yourself grace looks like creating space for yourself to be imperfect, to feel frustration, inadequacy and discomfort. Practicing self compassion honors the idea that life is not linear and no human on this planet is perfect.

4. Respond mindfully to your negative emotion.

Responding to yourself thoughtfully rather than self identifying with a negative emotion and reacting. Experiencing a negative emotion instead of becoming the negative emotion is key, notice you are experiencing anger and frustration and remembering your anger and frustration is not who you are.

An example, feeling frustrated with yourself after a mistake you made at work. Instead of immediately reminding yourself how bad you are or over compensating to makeup for the mistake, pausing to breathe and notice the emotion and choosing how you’d like to respond, this is a key moment. You can choose to open your heart to yourself and quiet the inner critic.

A few of the many benefits of practicing self compassion 🙂

  • accessing self forgiveness.

  • uncovering the lesson learned or purpose of the presenting challenge/ struggle.

  • allowing yourself to find peace in the chaos of life

  • giving yourself permission to feel ALL emotions

  • improving relationship with self

  • decreasing feelings of guilt and shame

If you can identify with these examples, want to learn more about this practice, or just chat- I’d love to learn more about you. Schedule time to connect here.

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