What is Self-Compassion?
Simply put, self Compassion is about breaking through the harsh self-judgments of the inner critic and accepting yourself, building inner strength and thriving. Self compassion is a powerful resource, it is about the practice of being a friend to yourself especially in a time of need.
There are three components to Self Compassion; Self Kindness, Common Humanity, and Mindfulness.
Self Kindness is about treating ourselves with more self respect and warmth compared to self criticism and unrealistic expectations. It is about being loving towards ourselves instead of being critical. When we practice self kindness, we have a greater understanding of our realities and our emotions
Common Humanity is understanding that suffering is not specific to one individual, we are all flawed, mortal and subject to harsh realities. It’s about letting go of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations and realizing we are all in this together, we all suffer, and suffering is a part of life. When we understand common humanity, we accept that we are not alone in our suffering and this helps to reduce isolation.
Mindfulness is about stepping out of the story line of our suffering and moving toward the pain mindfully and responding with kindness. When we are mindful, we experience the world directly, instead of through the lens of our thoughts. Thoughts are representations, symbols that stand for reality, not reality itself. When we drop below the level of thought and make contact with experience, we drop the idea of what we think reality ‘should’ be like and we become open to what is. This means that when we’re suffering, we can let go of the story of what is happening and simply ‘be’ with it, and with ourselves, with courage and presence.
How do I treat myself? How do I treat a friend? How do I treat myself when I am struggling? How do I treat a friend when they are struggling? Are there differences between how you would treat a friend when they are struggling and how you would treat yourself when you struggling?
One simple way to start practicing self compassion, is to practice mindfulness.
You will find free guided mindfulness meditations here.
Neff, K., & Germer, C. (2018). The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thriveÿ ÿ. Guilford Publications.