Do you, like me, have a tendency to blame yourself whenever something goes wrong. Last week I found myself getting frustrated by my apparent failings, for not being organised enough, for getting easily distracted and making too many mistakes. And these mistakes, they were tiny, I mean so inconsequential but still I beat myself up for, quite simply, not being good enough.
I know that this is something so many of us struggle with on a day to day basis, but what can we do?
The answer lies within compassion.
Spiritual leaders to healthcare professionals all agree that compassion can have a tremendous impact on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
According to psychologist Kristin Neff, Ph.D, self compassion is accepting yourself whether you win or lose, exceed or fail. Self compassion in short, is treating yourself in the same way you would treat your good friends. She explains that compassion consists of three components, self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
Adversity is an inevitable part of life. We will always have moments of success and joy, just as we will always experience moments of disappointment and sadness. The most effective way of dealing with the roller-coaster ups and downs is to cultivate a strong sense of self compassion.
So for the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing with you techniques to help you develop compassion towards yourself throughout the day and in moments of darkness.
Let’s begin with a simple technique that only takes a few minutes but will make a huge difference in the way that you not only feel, but also how you understand yourself.
Call to mind a situation in your life that is causing you stress, anxiety or pain. Think about how it makes you feel, emotionally and physically. Once you are in touch with the associated feelings, bring mindful awareness to the experience by quietly saying to yourself phrases along the lines of:
“This is a moment of suffering.”
“This is stress / anxiety / pain etc.”
After a few moments you can acknowledge the common humanity of suffering by saying to yourself:
“Suffering is a part of life”
“Other people feel this way”
“I’m not alone”
“We all struggle in our lives”
And finally self kindness, by offering your intention to be kind, patient and accepting of yourself:
“May I be kind to myself”
(you might optionally like to bring your hands over your heart or a space in the body you feel intense sensation.)
In doing this we acknowledge our suffering with kindness, instead of trying to bury it or push it aside. Great relief can come from this simple process of affirming that you are experiencing suffering or difficulty, a natural part of life.
Great relief can come from simply affirming that you are experiencing suffering, a difficult but natural part of life, and stating your intention to be kind, patient, or accepting of yourself. This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.
Keep your eyes open for the next few posts on cultivating self compassion.
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