When I mention self-compassion I get puzzled looks of "Hmmmm..." or comments like, "Yeah, I know that is something I could benefit from." As a society, self-compassion isn't taught or practiced. Very few of us have been raised with any concept of self-compassion within our families, but in reality, the opposite. We've been taught to "not be selfish," "share," "think of others before we think of ourselves," "everyone's needs come before our own," "give up our own rights for the rights of someone else," "put yourself in the shoes of another," and on and on and on it goes. These messages resulted in us learning not only to put others first, but that our own needs and desires didn't fit into the picture. In reality, giving space to self-compassion and practicing it, gives us the capacity to think of and treat others as valuable in ways we could never imagine. So, let's talk more about the REAL benefits of self-compassion!
The research on self-compassion shows that it is consistently linked to a sense of well-being within a person. Emotions that are in themselves depleting have a chance to move through the body in an effective manner. When self-compassion is present, states such as depression, anxiety, shame, and the negative effects of stress show up much less. Increased positive states are more readily noted such as happiness, life satisfaction, optimism, better physical health, and less pain. WOW! I personally think this is phenomenal! It reminds me of a warm blanket soothing a soul. Wrap that warm blanket around any feelings of depression, anxiety, aloneness, shame, discouragement, defeat (on and on it goes!) and one can find those difficult places disintegrating within the warm and inviting space of self-compassion.
A couple of other benefits to practicing self-compassion are motivation and a desire to take good care of our bodies. Because of the fact that self-compassion leads to less feelings of a fear of failure, it breeds motivation in a general sense. Not only that, but the ability to "try again" can be present when something doesn't go right. Another benefit is that self-compassionate people also tend to be more in tune with self enough to seek outside help with medical issues when it is appropriate and important. It also leads to more healthy behaviors on a daily basis. In reality, self-compassion positively affects about any area of life. These are just some brief examples. It is definitely a foundation which we would all benefit in developing. We literally change our body chemistry when self-compassion is a part of our practice.
Specifically, for us as brain retrainers, there are less incidences of ruminating thoughts, of over-identification with thoughts/feelings, a reduction in negative thinking patterns, as well as a decrease in many negative non-life-giving patterns that we tend to engage in. Our emotional intelligence is widened and expanded, thus stamina and resilience are built. It provides the space and foundation to notice and focus on our feelings and also gives us a way to shift those feelings. This choice to shift is important for our resilience. I don't know about you all, but having better emotional skills and the ability to bounce back from (without running from!) moods that aren't life-giving is very appealing to me! Incorporating self-compassion leads to many more healing neurochemicals within our body for life and vitality!
I am not sure I'd ever heard of self-compassion until a little over two years ago. A brain retraining friend of mine mentioned self-compassion quite regularly, and over time it increased my awareness and my interest. After losing my dad in December of 2020 and being unable to find much that sufficiently nourished me, I began practicing Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion Break (found on her website and on Insight Timer) regularly. I paused several times a day with it. It provided me an excellent foundation for beginning to be truly aware of moment-to-moment emotions and to give myself a beautiful space to welcome them and love on them. I would finish it with my proclamation, some "I am" statements, some positive affirmations, or even a yummy vizualization, and I would be good to go for a while. It truly was nourishment for my soul. I practice variations of it now and have learned to use it "on the go." What amazing shifts it provided in those beginning days, and what a foundation it provides for me each and every day.
Again, all of us can benefit from growing self-compassion within us. I love being able to bring awareness to all that is going on within my body, mind and soul, to love on those places, give them space to feel welcome, hearing from myself what I need in that moment, providing that need or simply moving back into life having been heard and loved on. Knowing I am tapping into my body's natural God-given healing and nourishing system is exactly what I want to do.
Jill White is a Life Purpose Coach® and has a certification in positive psychology from the Wholebeing Institute. She is passionate that women know their True Self and live within that beautiful person. She is a brain retrainer and in her journey became passionate about using Mindful Self-Compassion to love on and welcome that True Self. Currently, she is leading a group that is exploring and developing Mindful Self-Compassion. She is also preparing a workshop to explore Signature Strengths and how they play a deep role in an individual's life. Feel free to email her about future offerings. She is also creating and launching a coaching/teaching business that couples her passions with her skills. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Instagram: @pathway2theheart