What is self-compassion you might ask?
Self-compassion research has developed in the psychological world in the just the past 15 years, but it has its roots in Buddhism. Self-compassion is a newer concept but is based on the ancient idea of loving-kindness in Buddhism.
Dr. Kristin Neff, professor at University of Texas at Austin, began studying self-compassion years ago while struggling through her personal life challenges. Her research has shown that self-compassion helps individuals cope better with stressors in life, depression, and anxiety. It has also demonstrated why self-compassion is preferable to self-esteem. The basic components of self-compassion are: self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity.
Self-kindness means to offer yourself kindness and concern. Mindfulness can be defined as non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. Common humanity refers to the idea that we are not alone in our suffering. Essentially this means that, while you are suffering through your experiences and pain, there are other people who are suffering in the same or similar fashion. These three components combine to offer non-judgemental acceptance and kindness towards yourself as a human being. This is otherwise known as self-compassion.
Self-compassion is near and dear to my heart. I think it is important for some self-disclosure here. I struggled with feelings of depression for years. I found that I was highly self-critical of my actions, behaviors, intelligence, appearance, etc. I discovered self-compassion when I took a class with Dr. Kristin Neff. Something changed, and my eyes opened. I started to utilize her exercises both in class and outside of class, and slowly began researching similar authors to learn more about this idea. I can say now that I don’t really beat myself up anymore. Sure I have my moments, but I am human. Self-compassion has taught me a different way to look at life and at myself. So where should you begin? Sign up for one of our groups, pick up a book, or just start practicing mindfulness meditation for a few minutes a day. Slowly your eyes will open as well. I will leave you with an exercise:
Think about something that you did that you regret and are upset with yourself for. Write this event down in a form of a letter to yourself and then put it away for at least an hour but at most a day. Next I would like you to read this letter and think of how you would respond to a friend who had made the same mistake as you (hopefully you would respond to your friend compassionately; this is the key). Now write a letter to this friend who made the same mistake as you did. Consider now if there is a part of you that can offer compassion to yourself in the same way you would have offered it to your friend. Sit with this emotion, be mindful of what comes up, and offer your thoughts kindness and compassion as well.
Take care of yourself and be kind!
Written by Monti Pal, LPC-Intern
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Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.