At an early age we were taught by our parents to have compassion for other people—for those less fortunate than ourselves and those who are suffering from illnesses. But we were never taught to have feelings of compassion for ourselves when we are having a hard time? Because of that, its often much harder to do.
New research has revealed that we all could benefit from some of the good feeling and support that we give others. Call it compassion toward ourselves or self-compassion. It’s a new area of psychological research that is currently being explored.
Many of us respond to our own bad feelings with more bad feelings and self-criticism. There we are, feeling stressed, confused, inadequate or depressed. We feel like a wreck! Then there’s that voice in our head that makes it worse by saying things such as—I’m such a jerk…I don’t deserve to feel better…What’s wrong with me? All this self loathing and criticism is let loose on yourself!
Self-compassion turns this on its head. Instead of piling bad feelings on bad feelings, give yourself a break! Accept the fact that you’re imperfect! Acknowledge that most people feel inadequate at sometime or another, and decide to be kind to yourself.
Be Kind to Yourself
Recent research has revealed that self-compassion is good for our health. It results in less anxiety and depression, and more optimism and happiness. A 2007WakeForestUniversity study found that it helped dieters avoid overeating. And a 2011 study by researchers based at theUniversity ofArizona found that self-compassion helped to promote well-being and discourage long-lasting emotional distress following marital separation.
But the big question you must be shouting right now is, how do I do it? Well Christopher Germer, PhD, a clinical psychologist and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
(Guilford Press), recommends using mindfulness as a tool to achieve self-compassion. Here’s how to do it!
Quiet the Nasty Talk Inside
In order to overcome “self-cruelty,” you must first silence the nasty thoughts. Mindfulness is the process by which you slow down and quiet your thoughts, becoming aware of your breathing and of the sights, sounds and smells around you. In this state, you become aware of what is happening in the moment. You are aware of your thoughts and you accept them, without judgment, as they come in and out of your mind. Being mindful gives you a chance to change your internal conversation.
Here is where self-compassion comes in, where you change the way you talk to yourself. Imagine that you are talking to a child or a friend who has failed to accomplish a task. Chances are, you wouldn’t scold or punish that person. Instead, you would encourage them to do better next time. This is exactly what you should do for yourself. Give yourself some compassion! Shine some encouragement and helpfulness back onto yourself.
So the next time you are feeling down on yourself, try a little mindful self-compassion. You’ll feel better for the self talking to!
Have you been guilty of being too harsh on yourself in the past? Please share your thoughts and experiences for other readers to share.
Source: Bottom Line.Publications
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