Self-compassion in action looks like being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of disappointment, stress or failure.
It’s a skill that actually enhances motivation and better self-control. In no way is it a sign of weakness, of coddling yourself or of letting yourself off the hook too easily
You needn’t worry that self-compassion will undo your resolve or cause you to act irresponsibly.
In fact, self compassion takes courage. It requires you to allow yourself to be present with uncomfortable or negative emotions instead of trying to push them away.
Activating self-compassion requires you to respond to the harsh, critical, berating, judgemental voice in your head without compounding its effect by judging your judging.
Self-compassion is an effective interrupter of damaging thought loops.
So, when you find yourself being tough on yourself, hit the pause button on the whole cascade of negativity.
Instead, think about how the voice of a caring, supportive, loving mother, best friend or mentor might sound.
That voice projects understanding and kindness, not criticism or judgement.
Remember the brain’s inherent negativity basis will offer you a slew of negative thoughts on the regular.
Your brain is wired to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and conserve energy. But above all else, it’s a threat detector.
It’s programmed to keep you alive in the most efficient manner. How else would our species have survived on this planet in order to procreate and raise our young?
Whenever a situation appears threatening, your primitive brain shifts into overdrive. Alarm sirens blare. Red warning lights flash furiously.
It’s wired to make all this commotion to ensure you respond quickly to impending danger. You’ve just got to do whatever you must to stay alive. No dilly dallying.
But, hello 21st century!
Even now with the Covid-19 pandemic raging around us, your actual survival is rarely ever at stake. Although you may feel scared, angry or threatened, statistically speaking, you still are pretty safe. But that explains our alarm over the daily news over-dosing us with grim statistics and analyses.
Nevertheless, this negativity bias wiring stands at the ready to promote an impressive array of negative thoughts. Thoughts which create quite a flurry of negative emotions.
Thoughts and emotions that can mire us in fear, anxiety and depression.
But, just because your brain offers up these negative thoughts and emotions, that doesn’t mean you have to accept delivery or even believe them. No matter how hard they hammer away at you.
Self-compassion is more important than self-confidence.
That’s because self-compassion helps you remain engaged in life’s learning process while you have your own back.
It’s only after you prove to yourself that you’ve got you can self-confidence grow and flourish.
According to psychologist Kristin Neff, Ph.D, research shows that people who can tap into self-compassion enjoy a greater sense of well-being than people than who have a harsh inner voice.
According to Neff, self-compassion consists of the integration of three components: self-kindness, appreciation of our common humanity and mindfulness.
Self-kindness leads to calmness, security and contentment, says Neff. She reminds us that physical touch releases oxytocin, the hormone that stimulates increased bonding. Oxytocin provides a sense of security. It soothes upsetting emotions and calms cardiovascular stress.
She recommends that when you’re upset hugs help. Hugging yourself actually has soothing benefits. So, just give yourself a hug or gently rock your body. Your body will respond to the physical warmth and care.
And how’s this for personal power?
Even just imagining hugging yourself can activate feel good hormones.
Appreciation of our Common Humanity
Appreciation of our common humanity recognizes that all human experience is universal. Compassion acknowledges that we are all interconnected.
We all have shortcomings and failures.we all suffer. Neff explains that the word compassion means “to suffer with.”
Neff says, “The idea is that we need to see things as they are, no more, no less, in order to respond to our current situation in the most compassionate—and therefore effective—manner.”
Mindfulness gives us both distance and perspective. We can increase our awareness of our thoughts without accepting them as absolutes.
One helpful way to promote mindfulness is with a practice called Noting.
This is where you note everything you think and that your senses perceive. To do this, Neff suggests picking a comfortable spot and sitting down for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Acknowledge each thought, feeling or sensation and just go on to the next one.
- Neff gives the following examples: “itch in left foot,” “excitement,” “plane flying overhead.”
- Allow the thoughts without dwelling on them.
- If you do get lost in thought, like if you start planning tomorrow’s breakfast, simply say to yourself “lost in thought.”
According to Neff, “This skill offers a big payoff in terms of allowing us to be more fully engaged in the present, and it also provides us with the mental perspective needed to deal with challenging situations effectively.”
Cultivating self-compassion may not be easy, but it’s a worthwhile, empowering and liberating way to live your life.
Learning how to respond with self-compassion is a practiced skill.
Make the commitment to yourself that you will learn this new habit.
It’s worth the investment to improve your relationship with yourself. The foundational relationship from which success in all relationships flows.
Contact me here to take advantage of the free Strategy Call I’m offering so you can integrate self-compassion into your daily life.