Are you hard on yourself when you don't match up in some way – in your achievements, career or study, social standing, relationships, appearance, body image, financial status, etc?
Why do we find it so difficult to treat and speak (in our inner dialogue) to yourself in a kind or caring way?
Why are we great at self-criticism, but struggle when it comes to self-kindness or self-compassion?
Dr Kristen Neff (Author of Self-Compassion and Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin), defines compassion as: “the recognition and clear seeing of suffering...feelings of kindness for people who are suffering, so that the desire to help-to ameliorate suffering-emerges...recognising our shared human condition, flawed and fragile as it is”.
Self-compassion then is directing this attitude of kindness internally to ourselves. There are four key aspects:
Awareness - the sensitivity or attention to the inner experience that suffering is occurring, either some distress and struggle with emotional pain, physical or mental pain or all these.
Kindness - meeting this pain with feelings of concern warmth, care and kindness, without ignoring or shying away from our pain.
Normalising - experiencing pain is universal and human - it does not mean it is a fault or a failing of ours. We are not to blame for our pain and even though we often isolate ourselves when in pain, we all experience pain at some point to varying degrees and are not alone in our pain.
Alleviation - Focussing our energy on ways to alleviate the pain by providing a helpful perspective regarding whatever the trouble is, providing further caring actions and comfort, or having the courage and strength to take other necessary actions in facing the problem.
Why is self-compassion important?
Evolutionary Significance - The success of the human race as a species has depended on us being motivated to give care to others and on us receiving this care. When humans work and support each other we flourish. Learning to nurture ourselves is also very important.
Well Being and Mental Health Benefits: Research studies have shown those who are more compassionate towards themselves tend to have less mental health problems like anxiety, depression and stress. Compassion is linked to the hormone oxytocin often called the “love” hormone. Directing compassion inward can trigger oxytocin and the calming benefits it brings as well as contributing to general life contentment.
If you would like some help to become more self-compassionate or are feeling like you need some support to help you overcome negative thoughts about yourself, feel welcome to book an appointment with me or one of our team. Your mental strength is our priority.