Kristin Neff is a powerful researcher in the field of self compassion. Her ability to explain how self-compassion affects our everyday lives can be found in her best selling book Self Compassion which I recommend to all of my clients. Self Compassion has been found to have many health benefits such as
- Less Anxiety
- Better coping skills
- less stress
- less depression
to name a few. Most people have an inner dialogue with themselves that is hyper critical and very shaming. We need to be kinder to ourselves. We often give ourselves harsh criticism when we fail which in turn leads to becoming afraid of failure. We than lose confidence and give up thinking we are not good enough. The more you are able to support yourself during these and other painful times the more confident and resilient in life you will be. Tal Ben Shahar coined the term “Permission to be Human” which you can see him discussing here. When you are able to give yourself permission to be human you learn to pick yourself up and try again and you still believe in yourself even after a failure. What language do you use on yourself? What is your inner voice/chatter sound like? Is this the way a friend would speak to you?
What exactly is self compassion? One description is self compassion is treating yourself with the same care, love, support and understanding you would show to a good friend. Be a good supportive friend to yourself! Here are four things that make up self compassion according to Kristen Neff:
- Give yourself permission to treat yourself like a good friend would with kindness vs. self harsh judgement
- Actively motivated to help yourself by asking ” What do I need in this moment?”
- Recognize all people are imperfect and what it means to be human. This also allows us to connect with others and allow them to be imperfect too.
- Mindfulness – the ability to be present with what’s happening as it’s happening. Be present with our difficult emotions.
How can you use these four steps and practice self compassion?
- Bring mindfulness to the fact that you are suffering. For example by saying – ” This is hard right now. I’m having a challenging time right now. I am hurting.”
- Remind yourself of common humanity. This is normal. You are not alone, it’s not just me others feel this way too. Struggle is a part of life.
- Bring words of kindness to yourself. Put your hands on your heart or hug yourself. In a warm, soothing, comforting voice say, “i’m sorry this is har for you right now. How can I help? I care.” This will help you cope with what is going on.
- You might want to go to a loving kindness meditation a metta prayer like the ones offered here by Barbara Frederickson or just say ” May I be kind to myself, May I be safe”
Self Compassion gives you an opportunity to change suffering into a path of love and growth. Have you experienced a time with self compassion? Share your story below, I am sure it will help others.