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Clear The Way – The Art of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is the deep understanding that we are all human, and that being human can be hard.

Having self-compassion is to hold a non-judgmental attitude toward oneself when we face hardship or feel like we have failed in some way. It is the act of being the observer of our negative and/or ruminating thoughts and giving ourselves grace.

What is attention in Buddhism?

Satii was famously translated as "bare attention" by Nyanaponika Thera. Yet, in Buddhist practice, "mindfulness" is more than just "bare attention"; it has the more comprehensive and active meaning of samprajaña, "clear comprehension," and apramāda, "vigilance".

If we take the above principles, let us start to use vigilance and clear comprehension with self-compassion (in how you treat yourself and how you speak to yourself).

Benefits of self-compassion:

  • Decreases anxiety and depression

  • Improves overall sense of well-being

  • Better sleep

  • Decreases stress response and creates more peace in life

  • Less overwhelm in life

  • More motivation

  • Seeing ourselves in a new light – positive self-image and higher self-worth

  • More resilience

The more you practice self-compassion, the more natural it will become.

How we cultivate self-compassion:

1. Slow down.

Catch the moments when you are not being compassionate with yourself. When we slow down and live with more presence, our awareness is raised. We are able to notice when our thoughts begin to slide, catching the first thoughts before they get out of control.

2. Practice micro-moments of presence DAILY.

Set your timer for 1-2 minutes throughout the day and insert a pause where you are being still, and dropping into the present moment. When we stop and drop into stillness, we enter the present moment. This creates a compassionate pause that signals to your inner parts that you care and are treating yourself well and with kindness.

3. Practice Mindfulness.

This is a practice where we are slowing down, dropping directly into the moment and experiencing the moment fully with all our senses.

4. Practice talking to yourself as if you were speaking to a child, or if your best friend were speaking to you.

Give yourself a break, forgive yourself, be kind and be gentle with yourself! This voice takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

5. Practice self-forgiveness.

This is a process of looking inward, and after careful reflection, forgiving ourselves. With self-compassion, self-forgiveness is an easier process.

6. Use compassionate and kind statements towards yourself.

Come up with a few statements that will be your go-to statements when you are about to fall into (or are already in) self-judgment or criticism.

Use these or make up your own:

'I am human, and all humans make mistakes.'

'It’s safe for me to be kind to myself.'

'I deserve kindness and compassion.'

'I am a kind human being.'

'I am worthy of forgiveness.'

'I give myself grace, knowing that being human can be hard sometimes.'

7. Do something nice for yourself physically/emotionally/mentally.

Self-compassion is a form of self-care. When we practice self-care and honour our needs, we are showing ourselves kindness. Think of anything that you might want or need that would be comforting and kind to yourself. These acts are ways of treating yourself with compassion.

8. Get to know your inner critic.

We often have parts that want to ‘take over’ and become the boss. One of the loudest ‘take over’ parts we have inside of us is the voice of the inner critic or judge. Spend time getting to know this part (suppressing it only makes it get louder). You can draw it out, imagine it in front of you, or dialogue with it. Once you get to know it, you will be able to catch it earlier each time it shows up.

9. Practice feeling and processing your emotions.

When we are in tune and in touch with our emotions and we learn how to let them move through us, we are less apt to drop into a part that is being critical or hard on us. Learning how to feel and process our emotions is an expression of self-kindness and “self-knowing”, which is essential to practicing self-compassion.

10. Practice self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is not about liking everything. It’s about accepting yourself, your life and your circumstances as they are for today. Acceptance without emotion is freedom and will release the grip of your inner judge, allowing you to live a more present life filled with self-compassion.

So, looking at the lessons in these situations and using that moment-to-moment thinking, remember that tomorrow really does take care of itself. Enjoy the rest of your day and clear the way for some self-compassion.

Here is a great tool by Michelle Chalfant at The Adult Chair on how to do that. I suggest that you record this on your phone, you can then use this any time you feel you need to reengage with yourself:

  • Ask yourself - what is in the way of you being kind to yourself?

  • Which part? Maybe it’s resistance or a judgemental part of self, saying you don’t deserve kindness or compassion.

  • Close your eyes and allow your awareness to drop deep inside of you.

  • Think of giving yourself a break from the inner critic or inner judge, instead giving yourself grace and being kind to yourself.

  • Do you feel resistance, or does it feel easy?

If you feel resistance, it’s a part of you.

  • Ask it what its purpose is.

  • Ask it what it wants you to know.

  • Ask it how old it thinks you are.

Then when you get your responses:

  • Thank it and let it know how old you are now, and that you would like to reassign its role within you, to one of compassion.

  • Let it know you want to hear this voice loudly, and that you welcome it to interrupt your thinking in order to help you to become more and more compassionate.

  • Talk with it, and again, thank it and let it know you wish for this to happen

When you feel ready, move to the next part of this question below:

If you don’t feel resistance, get to know this compassionate part of you.

  • Meet with it.

  • What do you sense, see or hear?

  • Write about its role in your life.

  • Thank it and invite it to get louder.

Remember to practice your mindfulness practice for an entire month. Doing this same practice each week will shift your thinking towards yourself and form this into a habit!

Imagine that your very best and most loving, kind, encouraging friend/family member is with you every single day and night.

When you find yourself falling into any sort of negative self-thinking, stop and listen to the compassionate/kind voice of your “person.”

  • Pause what you are doing and let that voice guide you.

  • Let the kindness land.

  • Breathe

  • Slow down

  • Then move on

Imagine your life without your symptoms. Don’t wait for this to just happen, book a Discovery call with us today and take the first step towards being compassionate to yourself.

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