Have you ever had a bad day, week, month or year and begun practising self-compassion?
WHAT IS SELF-COMPASSION?
Google defines practising self-compassion as:
“extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.”
It’s a mental art form that requires awareness of ones emotions, self-kindness and reminding yourself that everyone suffers.
No-one judges you as hard as you judge yourself; we have much higher expectations of ourselves than we do of others. So it’s incredibly important to practise self-compassion as often as you can, until it becomes second nature. Self-compassion is a healthy way to self-soothe your feelings before it leads to an unhealthy dose of self-judgement.
DITCH THE SELF-JUDGEMENT
Self-judgment creates absolute chaos in your emotional state. If you’re already distressed and you aren’t practising self-compassion, your emotions spiral out of control. You think about how “…everyone else is doing well, why aren’t I?”, and “…if they can do it, why can’t I?!”. We see others doing or being what we want to do or be and expect us to perform to the same standards despite not having the same experiences, time and/or knowledge.
This is a classic case of comparisonitis. Comparison is a happiness sin! We begin a toxic cycle of judgement, shame and guilt as we compare ourselves to others. And these are emotions we feel ON TOP OF the distress we were initially feeling.
The judgment, shame and guilt just adds more fuel to your emotional fire.
DON’T LET THE PAIN BECOME WORSE
There’s a podcast I listen to regularly called Schnitt Talk (completey irrelevant to the subject but such a good listen!) and they have a segment called ‘What my therapist said’. The host of the show, Ellie, once talked about what her therapist described as “dirty” and “clean” pain. Clean pain for (a terrible) example would be mourning a break up. Dirty pain would be mourning the break up but telling yourself “I’m not allowed to feel this way”, “I shouldn’t feel this way” or “I should be over them already”. This was such a revelation for me!
After hearing this I became hyper aware of whether I’m feeling clean pain or turning it dirty. Self-judgement (as previously mentioned) is a classic example of dirty pain in my opinion.
Practising self-compassion can really help keep the pain clean and prevent more fuel to your emotional fire.
HOW CAN YOU practise SELF-COMPASSION?
For the last week I’ve been feeling flat, disheartened, and unmotivated; my capacity for self-compassion was put to the test! I might be an advocate for self-compassion, but I’m still learning. You might find a better way to show yourself compassion, but here’s what I did:
- I relaxed my exercise regime and gave myself permission to only workout if I felt up for it. This still proved effective because I ended up exercising three and a half times (I say a half because it was an interrupted 15 minutes but boy did my muscles burn still!)!
- I don’t follow a diet because I don’t believe in them, but I allowed myself to indulge a little on food. Now I know one of the top things self-compassion isn’t is self-indulgence, buuuut, I didn’t necessarily indulge per se. These were foods I normally eat but I didn’t monitor how much or when I ate them. I mindlessly ate and told myself that I’d make better choices later (which I did). The important thing to note here is I didn’t seek out food to comfort me; it was more that I felt like eating these foods and doing something off the cuff that I hadn’t prepared to bake or buy in advance.
- I reminded myself it was okay to not do anything related to housework, this blog, posting to socials, or trying to force myself to feel better. It was okay that I wasn’t getting proactive to change it but instead make it easier to deal with. I lit candles, watched movies, and if I’m being honest, had a damn good hormonal cry! Or cries because let’s face it, I cried more than once!
- I showed gratitude for the things that were working instead of focusing on what I was lacking. Past Tara made several lots of leftovers so I didn’t have to cook dinner, and I thanked her profusely for it (I haaaaattteee cooking!). My workplace is also a mentally forward thinking environment and I was thankful I could take a day off work when I had physical symptoms of my deflation.
- I made sure I wasn’t turning my clean pain into dirty pain by not giving guilt, stress or worry the space in my head to plant its seeds.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT practising SELF-COMPASSION?
I recently started a (free) Coursera course “A Life of Happiness and Fulfilment” and Dr Kristin Neff’s name came up.
Dr Kristin Neff has a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley where she studied moral development and spent two years studying self-concept development at the University of Denver in a postdoctoral capacity.
Take a look at her TEDx talk below…
Kristin is an advocate for meditation and has amazing resources on her website including guided meditations and other exercises you can implement when you need to practise self-compassion most. While you check out her site, be sure to note what she says self-compassion IS NOT.
I actually had no idea until writing this post that Kristin also has a published book – ‘Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself’. Sounds like this one is well worth the read though – especially during the global wide suffering we are all having to endure.
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I love you 3000!