“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” -Jack Kornfield
In order to begin our journey toward developing self-compassion it is important that all of us first explore how we suffer. Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in self-compassion, has found that the biggest reason more people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they will become self-indulgent. Generally people believe that self-critism is what helps them stay in line. Most people are misguided by our cultural influences which encourages individuals to be hard on themselves.
Taking a critical view of ourselves or others often sets us up for termendous suffering. Many of us mindlessly accept our inner negative chatter and beleive every thought we have or we become convinenced that every feeling that we experience is real. A person may be completely unaware of how this very action, believing every thought and feeling, is impacting them and causing them to suffer termendously. Can you think of any examples of this from your own life? One that I often encounter in clinical practice is a person thinking and feeling they are shamful or bad. Often these thoughts and feelings are played out in their behavior.
This week try taking on a task of noticing your thoughts and feelings. Just observe them, as if you are watching a train go by. Try very hard not to ride the train of thoughts and feelings. For some people it is easier to write these thoughts and feelings down. Replace any negative thought or feeling with a positve thought or feeling. It is easier to do if you pick an imagine of a loved one or something happy you experienced.
Next week we will explore more how your mind, brain and body are impacted by the lack of self-compassion.
Life is filled with many pleasures and joys although everyone suffers and some of us suffer more than others. Self-Compassionisn’t feeling sorry for yourself or self-pity. It doesn’t mean you only think about yourself. It is simply warmth, self-care or concernexpressed for yourself, just like you would share compassionor empathy for another person.
People who lack empathy for themselves often seek out many self- destructiveavenues to alleviate their suffering. Drinking, drugs, self-harming behavior, relationshipdifficulties, depression, angry outbursts, sex addiction, eating disorders, anxiety and chronic stress.
According to many researchers developing self-compassionis a more emotionally intense and healing experience than increasing self esteem. Self-Compassion has a powerful effect on anyone and can reduce the impact of difficult conditions, helping an individual preserve their much needed self-worthand build self-resilience. In other words how we treat ourselves will sculpt our being. I think Walt Whitman, said it best when he wrote in Song of the Open Road, “I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness.”
Join me each week throughout this year as we explore how to develop self-compassion and increase your inner strength, happiness, sense of peaceand innerjoy.