3 Elements to Practicing Self-Compassion
Written by: Itzel Ballew, LMFT #101210
The first element to practicing self-compassion is SELF-KINDNESS. Self-kindness is the practice of being caring toward ourselves as we often are toward others. We each have an inner critic and inner coach inside of us. Often times when we have a big reaction or emotions arise, the inner critic shows up, and we can berate ourselves or belittle our experience. Using self-kindness brings attention to that inner voice and works toward creating gentleness when experiencing discomfort.
One way to begin this practice is to try taking a self-compassion break. Like many mindful based practices this requires that you focus inward. This website offers a script to practice on your own.
The second element to self-compassion is COMMON HUMANITY. Common humanity tells us that as human beings we all experience hardships in life. While we all experience different circumstances and varying degrees of suffering, common humanity helps us see the connection between all human beings. That is, suffering is a universal human experience. When we are in emotional pain, it’s easy to forget that we are connected to others and thus, we tend to suffer in isolation. When we remember that suffering is a part of the shared human experience- we can transform it into a moment of connection with others and ourselves.
A way to show kindness to your suffering is by using a kind inner voice. You may create your own kindness phrase or use the following:
· “I am feeling very frightened, and it’s difficult for me to feel this way. It’s natural to
feel this way when (blank) has happened.”
· “I forgive myself for my mistakes.”
· “May I hold this suffering with compassion.”
Warm up to the struggles and be sensitive to the pain.
The third element to self-compassion is MINDFULNESS. Mindfulness is the ability to notice, be aware of and to turn toward our experience in a balanced manner. Mindfulness is the foundation to self-compassion; it’s the space between ourselves and our reactions. It is moving toward deep acknowledgment of our difficult emotions and reactions in the present moment without avoidance or resistance. Mindfulness like self-compassion is a practice, bringing mindfulness into your daily life can help create new habits that impact overall health.
Try using your five senses to notice what is occurring and while it’s occurring. Bring gentle and kind awareness as you complete the activity.
What You See: Try softening your focus and look for small details such as the way the light reflects or perhaps a pattern in your view.
What You Smell: Try to notice any smells or scents in the air that are new or lingering.
Notice Touch: Notice the sensation of touch, the way your body meets the chair for instance. You might pick up an object and notice its textures.
What You Taste: Focus on the bite you take and notice if it is sweet, or sour, you might be aware of the texture it may have.
What Sounds You Hear: Our mind at times may tune out noise, gently bring awareness to the sounds around you. You may hear the ticking of a clock, a faraway train or even the sound of the breeze.
Resource: The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff PhD & Christopher Germer PhD.