The title of this blog series is "Giving Space to Self-Compassion." In giving space to, we are making time for, being intentional about, giving priority to this key ingredient in our lives. My experience with the self-compassion break that Kristin Neff created began at at time when my brain retraining had taken a shift due to the loss of my dad. I desperately needed something a little more simple. I needed something to help me walk into my heavy feelings, and yet be able to come back out of them, and move into continuing to live as best as I could. So, I'd love to share with you a little bit about what self-compassion is as is taught by Kristin Neff, and it's three components.
Self-compassion is not something most of us are taught as we are growing up. In fact, we are usually taught quite the opposite. From a young age we are taught to "buck up," and to "think of others before yourself," and to push through life. We are taught to fix problems or just get through events rather than caring for ourselves. We end up denying a good part of our own reality and it only makes stress and overwhelm multiply. We feel alone and end up sucking up our distress and pain. Truth be known, we are judging ourselves. This ends up creating a vicious cycle in our inner selves of criticism and high expectations to keep going no matter what we are experiencing, inside or outside of ourselves.
So, what IS self-compassion? Self-compassion is actually compassion turned inward. Compassion is defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Within this is an obvious connection with the other person who is suffering. Self-compassion is considering ourselves worthy of the same mindful attention and care as that that is given to another. It includes a cognitive understanding of one's own situation. Self-compassion is a gentle way to learn how to give attention to what and how we feel and to own and maneuver through our own experience. It is learning to ask oneself, "What do I need right now?" It is having awareness to our own thoughts, feelings, and experience, and then responding in a loving and supportive way. When we give these gifts to ourselves, we will create positive emotions that will give us the strength to maneuver through our situations. Self-compassion opens the door to being tender toward, validating, and accepting ourselves as we are. It also includes elements of fierce love enough to draw boundaries, use our voice or make changes. We matter, and self-compassion provides us the space to practice it and prove that it is true!
There are three elements within the practice of self-compassion. Those three elements are self-kindness, acknowledging that our experience is very universal, and mindfulness. Self-kindness is opening our heart toward ourselves to understand and see our full experience.
AND responding to ourselves in ways to ease and comfort the pain we are experiencing. According to Wikipedia it is "extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering." I am amazed at how when we do so, positive emotions flow much more easily that give room for the pre-frontal cortex to help guide us into next steps.
The second element of self-compassion, acknowledging that our experience is very universal, gives clear sight to see that we are interconnected with a world of people experiencing very similar. All of a sudden, we are not alone. The opposite of self-kindness which is self-judgement causes us to feel alone and isolated. We tend to have tunnel vision and believe that we are the only one having our difficult experience. That experience can be with some outside situation, but more often than
not, it is connected to what we are experiencing internally. Thinking that we are the only one who has ever experienced "this," keeps us isolated. Then we feel unworthy and that something is wrong with us so we continue to hide. This perpetuates a very lonely cycle of disconnect. Acknowledging that others in the world are experiencing similar at this very moment, brings us back to a state of calm and connectedness.
The third element, mindfulness, is actually interwoven in the whole process. Mindfulness is important to stop, and listen, and love. Mindfulness is awareness. It is awareness to thoughts, feelings, sensations and experiences. It is a
nonjudgemental look, again, toward ourselves alone. It is not a look to fix, but a look to see, to understand, and to love. This takes out "over-identification." It is a "seeing from a different vantage point" sort of experience. We see our thoughts and feelings as just that and no more. They just are. They are not our identity. That are part of our experience.
Mindfulness also provides us the perspective to make new choices, even if that means just holding ourselves. It brings in courage. "We can't heal what we can't feel," and for me, the avenue of self-compassion taught me how to feel feelings, accept thoughts, acknowledge
sensations, and THEN move into my beautiful life.
This whole process was the beginnings of teaching me how to move into my beautiful life with all my thoughts and feelings coming along with me. Not being identified by them, but welcoming them as part of my experience was so huge for me. As a result, I am super passionate about it.
Each element of self-compassion blends together to create a beautiful state of accepting one's self. Once we connect with, know, understand and accepting ourself is an amazing doorway to all sorts of growth and expansion. It is a super fantabulous route to inner freedom. This little practice of Kristin Neff is a sampling of what can be used to practice self-compassion. Enjoy! You can find more of her recordings on her website as well as Insight Timer.
Next month we will explore why we want to practice self-compassion. We will explore the benefits physiologically, mentally, and emotionally. Good stuffs!!! I'm also going to lead a class beginning toward the end of June using the Mindful Self-Compassion workbook. If you are interested in knowing more about the class, please reach out with an email! Until later, give some love to yourself. You are worthy of it and deserve it! 🥰🥰
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 preparing to lead a group in exploring and developing Mindful Self-Compassion. It will begin in June. Please email her to get more info on that specifically! She is also creating and launching a coaching/teaching business that couples her passions with her skills. For more information, email email@example.com, or follow her on Instagram: @pathway2theheart