Self-Compassion is a simple concept, yet difficult to put into practice.
Why Self-Compassion May be Difficult to Practice
Perhaps, it’s because self-compassion is such a key part of my repertoire as a therapist, I was surprised to learn that the term was popularized fairly recently by Dr. Kristin Neff. I don’t have too many original thoughts on the concept, only to note from anecdotal experience working with client’s that it’s a fairly simple concept to explain, but one that’s difficult for many to put into consistent practice.
Simply put, self-compassion is the act of treating yourself kindly. As Dr. Neff explains, quite well, our western culture recognizes and encourages our being kind to others, but is rather dismissive of our turning such generosity on ourselves. This is a shame because self-compassion is a great antidote to the inner self-critic in the form of self-judgment that is the undercurrent of ailments such as depression or trauma. Self-judgment really chips at self-confidence that provides fertile soil for personal growth and the courage to embark on new behavioral changes. It can also get in the way of making headway in treatment because it can generate unrealistic expectations. Preparing for your therapy session can be one way to ease up on your expectations of self by helping you better understand your limits.
“But self-kindness involves more than merely stopping self-judgment. It involves actively comforting ourselves, responding just as we would to a dear friend in need. It means we allow ourselves to be emotionally moved by our own pain, stopping to say ‘This is really difficult right now. How can I care for and comfort myself in this moment.'” Dr. Kristin Neff. Here are some ways to practice self-compassion:
- Mindfulness practice
- Slowing down
- Embracing imperfectionism
What Holds us Back?
Ever have trouble sitting still with your emotions? Perhaps while meditating or practicing mindfulness? Some people get very fidgety. Finding yourself consistently unable to engage in self-care can sometimes be a result of the familiar sensation of *needing* that envelopes the space that the distractions and busyness of life was able to fill. That sensation, for some, is a reminder of various forms of abandonment. From a theoretical approach of attachment, it might indicate a moment for reparenting to sooth that familiar feeling of wanting that in one’s past may have been followed by abandonment. It’s an opportunity. It’s not another assault.
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