“Compassion for others begins with kindness for ourselves” —
At the start of this new year, we wanted to focus a little more on self-care and self-compassion topics. After all, when we take care of ourselves everyone benefits.
It is inevitable that all human beings will feel pain or some form of suffering in their lifetime. Many of us grow up being encouraged to get over discomfort as soon as it is encountered. Parents may tell a child who has fallen down that they are fine and should get up and keep going. As adults, we are told to move on and be resilient in the face of suffering, but when we don’t acknowledge feelings they often get buried inside. Eventually this pain manifests itself when triggered through our sensitivities. When anger, hurt, shame and other “negative feelings” aren’t recognized by others, we learn it’s not okay to have these emotions.
However, researchers are finding it is necessary to walk towards our uncomfortable feelings in order to dissipate them and bring about inner peace. This may mean we go at it alone or work with a professional who has the tools to guide us through our intense emotions.
“Self-compassion is extending compassion to the self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” — Wikipedia
Dr. Kristin Neff encourages us to turn to self-compassion by being kind and gentle to ourselves. An Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Neff conducted the first academic studies on self-compassion. In her research she defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. You can read more about it in detail here or listen to her talk about it in the YouTube video below.
If you find yourself being self-critical or having high expectations of yourself, Dr. Neff’s website is an excellent resource offering self-compassion guided meditations and exercises to increase your unconditional love for yourself.
Here’s to becoming your own best friend.