The Power of Self-Compassion
I don’t know about you, but it took a long time for me to learn that ALL of my feelings are okay. How we express them is a different story for a laterpost. Today, however, let’s talk about self-compassion.
I first learned about self-compassion from my Mom. She didn’t use this term, but I recall her telling me to talk to myself as if I were talking to my own child. Great suggestion, but unfortunately I couldn’t think of anything else to say other than what I was saying to myself and that concluded the talk and we moved on.
Many years later I first heard the teram self-compassion from Dr. Kristen Neff, a lead researcher and scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. I discovered Dr. Neff’s work on self-compassion a few years ago while scrolling on the Greater Good Science Center at U.C. Berkeley.
Dr. Neff outlines 3 components of Self-compassion:
First you have to be aware that you are hurting at the moment. When I start to feel injured or negative emotions, I acknowledge my feelings. If I don’t take a moment to acknowledge my own pain, I act from that pain state and that’s generally not going to be helpful to anyone, including myself.
Once I acknowledge my feelings, I immediately practice self-kindness and soothe myself knowing that my emotions are common. Again, I tell myself that I am safe and that whatever I am dealing with is okay. I will get through the situation. Lastly, we have to remember that we are not alone. It’s so easy to want to isolate yourself and feel that you are the only one having these experiences, but you’re not. You’re not alone!
I wrote the following prayer that I say each morning as part of my morning routine:
Mother-Father Creator, Gracious God, Indwelling Intelligence,
Thank you for this day, thank you for waking me up this morning. Each day you wake me up is a gift that I appreciate and celebrate, I surrender this day to you. No matter what does or doesn’t happen, I trust that everything will happen for everyone’s highest growth. My mindset is one of growth, which means I can learn and improve in any area of my life regardless of my age or how difficult things may seem. I comfort myself through these challenges. I’m not alone when my feelings are hurt or when I have difficult emotions for I share a common humanity with all people. I have enough to give or share, not for attention or praise, but to make our space and world a better place. And so it is.
One of the most nurturing ways that I comfort myself is by writing myself a letter. When anxiety producing thoughts creep into my mind, I know that I need to stop whatever I’m doing and give myself attention. I pull out my little journal and start writing. I let my thoughts flow without getting caught up in grammar. I let the words flow as they come. Here is part of a letter that I wrote to myself.
I know you have a lot going on right now. I’m here to comfort you through these challenges. It’s okay to have all the feelings that you have. Thank you for your honesty. You’re doing the best that you can at this moment. Continue to take deep breaths, knowing that in the big scheme of things all is well. Everything is in divine order despite appearances. No matter how orchestrated or planned, random or isolated each event and interaction is, your life is an opportunity for higher growth. I know that you sometimes struggle with what “higher growth” looks like for you, but don’t worry. You’ll see. You’re in the process. Observe.
This soothing letter comforted me. When I asked myself what made this letter so comforting, three reasons came to mind.
I acknowledged and validated my feelings. It’s okay to feel whatever I’m feeling. I didn’t try to change them by saying something like, “You don’t have to feel this way, look at how many blessings you have, look at how much support you have, ect.
Negative emotions signal that something needs my attention. I now pause, observe, and comfort myself by writing or simply speaking to myself as if I’m writing.
Returning to a deep rooted belief that no matter what happens, despite appearances, life is in Divine Order.
Other ways that I comfort myself include:
Repeating uplifting words such as: courageous, vibrant, inspiring, miraculous, generous. I do this with intention, focus and energy!
Expressing immense gratitude for my body, including my organs, blood, and bones.
Walking in nature and allowing myself to be awed by the beauty of it all.
How do you comfort yourself through challenges?
Cheering you on,