Compassion means to “suffer with” and to suffer means to experience pain, hardship, distress or any other state of unpleasantness.
Self – compassion involves accepting yourself exactly as you are, that’s your flaws and all with kindness, openness, non-judgement and love.
The curious paradox by Carl Jung states; “when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Accepting yourself fully enables you to take steps toward change.
Mindfulness is not just about paying attention it’s also about how you pay attention.
Practicing mindfulness encourages you to become more compassionate with yourself. The awareness that mindfulness brings will help you to see things as they are; not ignoring the pain that you encounter nor exaggerating it, it allows you to be mindful of suffering.
Dr Kristin Neff explained that being compassionate toward yourself doesn’t mean you pity yourself, it actually makes you more willing to accept, experience and acknowledge difficult feelings with kindness. Dr Neff also explained that self-compassion goes beyond accepting your experience as it is. It embraces the experiencer (you) with warmth and tenderness when the experience is painful. When you have self-compassion it is more likely that you will be willing to take ownership of your mistakes because it’s not so psychologically damaging.
Motivating yourself with self-compassion means that you drive yourself to be healthier which increases your well-being.
Whereas, when you motivate yourself with self -criticism you drive yourself using fear of failure which is associated with negative consequences and can be detrimental to your mental health. More often than not, we are our own biggest critic and self-criticism gives us the illusion of self-control. It may lead us to think that we could be “perfect” and will deem anything but that as a shortfall or failure; yet this is not reality.
We fall into a trap of believing that things are supposed to go well, and when we make a mistake or something difficult occurs we think things must have gone terribly wrong. It is easy to forget the fact that me, you and every single person in this world is flawed and imperfect. And having the presence of mind that hardship and struggle are a part of the human condition will allow you to feel that you are not really alone.
Relating to yourself in a kind and friendly manner is essential for emotional well-being and avoids the consequence of harsh judgement, anxiety and stress.
So here are a few Mindful self-compassion tips:
- Notice how you speak to yourself
- Try to use kind words toward yourself
- Give yourself permission to make mistakes
- Accept that things will go wrong
- Remain open and non-judgemental when things do go wrong
- If you feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions, pause and a take a few deep breaths.
Learn to be kind to yourself. As the compassion we cultivate for ourselves transmits to others.