After spending the week couch-bound due to the lovely influenza bug, engaging in nothing more than distraction behaviours (binge watching TV and movies), I found myself judging my worth and abilities.
“How can you miss so much work – you are letting so many people down – you’re such a horrible person! And how in the hell did you think you were suited to host a mindfulness challenge when you’ve spent the whole week trying to do anything but live in the present?”
My Inner Bully was having a field day.
It seems inevitable that these bullies are going to keep showing up, but what we do with them is what matters most. By being more aware of them it gives me an opportunity to make a conscious choice – Will I let them beat me up or will I practice self-compassion?
Through my experiences these last few months it has become clear to me how important, and amazing, self compassion is – yet it is still the thing I struggle with most.
Kristin Neff explains that self-compassion involves three basic components; self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us notice our own suffering (Awareness is the first step to everything!). Self-kindness is being kind and caring in response to that suffering, and common humanity is remembering that suffering and imperfection is part of the human experience.
When it comes to compassion, it is a lot easier to apply to others than it is to yourself. My default (and I’m sure some or all of you can relate) is to judge, harshly. I can easily get into the mind-set that “Sure, I’ll practice self-compassion, but only when I deserve it”. And let me tell you, if you are making yourself “earn it”, it’s not self-compassion. True compassion is non-judgmental.
But it’s true what they say, old habits die hard.
In an effort to force this into the grave and replace this with compassion I’ve been trying the following strategies.
One strategy I use is to visualize myself as a young child. The distance this creates helps me see myself as someone who deserves compassion and protection from the Inner Bully. It sparks a strong urge to protect and comfort that child, which makes it easier to practice self-kindness.
Another strategy I try is talking to myself as I would a friend. When I remember to use this strategy the words and tone I use instantly change from my usual self-talk. This again helps with the self-kindness.
Self-kindness is by far my most challenging hurdle in the self-compassion triathlon; however, I also find it difficult to remember to extend the common humanity to myself. It’s easy to personalize our struggles and to think we are failing while the rest of the world would be doing just great in our situation. It’s become clear to me that I need a reminder of this (for the times that my healthy tribe are not around). So I wrote myself a message..
Imagine how comforting it would be to know that you always have someone (24/7) that will be compassionate and soothing whenever you are suffering. I’m sure self-compassion will be something I continue to struggle with for a long time, but I know the more steps I take in this direction will make me a stronger
I’d love to hear any strategies or tips you have for practicing self-compassion!