Mindfulness & Self-Compassion
When we think of the word compassion, it tends to imply feeling the suffering of others and responding with kindness and empathy. We rarely consider being compassionate toward ourselves. Why is it so much easier to be kind to others than ourselves?
In fact, if we are honest we might realize how unkind, critical and judgmental we actually are towards ourselves. It can be suprising to discover an inner voice that is constantly negative, disapproving and judging, telling us we will never succeed, or we are just not attractive or intelligent enough. It can be hard to see how we sabotage ourselves.
A new area of reserach is examining this and finding...
"People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic" - says Parker-Pope, N.Y. Times 2/28/11
Spiritual teachings of all persuasions have for centuries pointed to the fact that the root of compassion lies in developing a forgiving, considerate attitude to oneself.
"Self-compassion is the first step
to being compassionate to others." Dalai Lama
So how does Mindfulness help us cultivate true kindness and compassion to ourselves ?
1. Acknowledging our Critical, Judgmental Voice.
Begin by paying attention and just hearing your inner dialogue- noticing if you are harsh and critical to yourself, judging yourself as not good enough, or pushing away painful feelings. Just notice this without judging it- you are not alone in being hard on yourself!
2. Acknowledging our Difficult Emotions.
Allow yourself to be aware of your true feelings when you are hurt, sad or lonley. We are so accustomed to denying and avoiding pain that we don't see that this acutually increases our suffering. Just gently acknowledge how you feel right now and let your feelings be held in loving awareness.
3. Mindful Self-Compassion Practice
In mindfulness practice, we pay attention to our experience-just the way it is-from moment to moment. We become aware of our thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, without suppressing them or pushing them away. We soften our hearts and acknowledge difficult feelings.
Not trying to fix anything, just recognizing this is how we feel in this moment,we learn to respond compassionately to ourselves.
The Paradox- practicing self-compassion teaches us that when we resist and deny our suffering we make it worse! When we turn towards our difficult emotions and judgmental minds with an open heart we invite healing and equanimity.
Take the Test- How Self-Compassionate are you?
click here to find out
Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges
N.Y. Times Article
link to article