What is the mindful path to practicing Self Compassion?
For many of us it is much easier to be compassionate towards others. We tend not to treat ourselves with the same kindness. I had a client who told me, “if I treated my friends the way I treated myself, I wouldn’t have any.”
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon statement.
It is not unusual to have grown up believing fear is the best motivator. However, the opposite is true. When we are harshly self critical and give ourselves an array of negative messages we turn on the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system. Alarm bells go off in our bodies. Which causes an increase in stress hormones that serve to make us anxious and panicky.
Kindness is the door that works.
Self-compassion tends to be conflated with self pity, lack of accountability and weakness when in fact, practicing self-compassion improves resilience. “Research shows self-compassionate people are better able to cope with tough situations like divorce, trauma, and physical pain.” – Kristin Neff
Mindfulness practice helps us become aware of the harsh messages we give ourselves. Once we are aware, we can treat ourselves with respect and kindness and free up energy for growth.
With mindful awareness – non-judgement – we can learn from our mistakes rather than getting stuck in the cycle of beating ourselves up, wallowing in guilt and shame and being paralyzed to learn and make positive changes.
Life can, at times, be painful. Self-compassion is not about trying to push the pain away, rather it is about feeling our feelings and being accepting of what is happening in the present moment and treating ourselves the way we would treat a loved one.