Self-Compassion: What, Why and How?
What is Self-Compassion?
Type define self-compassion into a search engine and thousands of results come up. Here are a few that resonate with me:
Self-compassion is what you’d show a loved one struggling with a similar situation.
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.
Self-compassion is the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding (instead of beratement and criticism) toward oneself when faced with shortcomings, inadequacies, or failures.
Self-compassion is being kind to ourselves, as we would to a loved one in a similar situation. There is an absence of beratement self-criticism. Easier said than done!
Why is Self-Compassion relevant?
Self-compassion sounded too ‘weak’ or too ‘indulgent’ or too ‘silly’ for me. However, over the years I have come to accept that it is an area to focus on as it is foundational for overall health.
Self-compassion has been linked to greater well-being, including diminished anxiety and depression, better emotional coping skills and compassion for others.
I have huge amounts of compassion and empathy for others… I’m one of the first to cry in movies, books or at baby animals. Yet I was missing something… the SELF part. This is something I have also noticed in some of my clients over the past two decades.
Did you know the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”? (see Dr Kristin Neff).
Having decided to practice Self-compassion, how do you do it?
Start with observing your self-talk. What does your "monkey mind" (your gremlin/your little voice/the committee in your head) say to you? You know... it’s that voice that is now saying “What voice?” 😉
Especially if you make a mistake what does your voice say to you?
My voice was very harsh. Telling me that I’m not good, that I’m hopeless, that I’m unloveable. However, this was not evidenced in the real world… it was old news that is no longer relevant. I am now becoming super vigilant in challenging my voice and acting differently. I now notice it, name it ("false narrative"), and neutralise it by taking action.
So now, instead of beating myself up, I’m choosing to do one/some of the following actions. You may chose too also, or add your own actions to challenge your “monkey mind” voice:
Be mindful – focus on where your hands are
Do one thing at a time - no multi-tasking
Manage expectations – set yourself up to succeed vs fail. Baby steps.
Access relevant resources to challenge negative self-talk with EVIDENCE. (ie: feel good folder; podcasts; books; etc…)
Hydrate – drink water to keep your brain alert so you can notice when you’re hooked into old thinking/tapes
Eat well – nutritious, fresh, healthy foods. Lately I am experimenting with NO snacks, and I’m finding it helps with my clarity of thinking (and waistline!)
Sleep well – give yourself the best chance of sleeping well – see Matt Walker, the Sleep Diplomat
Move well – physically move, as much or as little as you can
Slow down - I love Carl Honore’s TED talk In Praise of Slowness it's an oldie but a goodie
We can all practise the 3N’s using the action(s) above to neutralise.
1. NOTICE IT
2. NAME IT
3. NEUTRALISE IT
You may want to consider downloading my free “21st Century Time Blocking – What, Why and How” resource here You can use this to remind yourself to practise Self-Compassion.