Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. This becomes even more true for individuals brought up in abusive or unloving homes.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is taken from Buddhist psychology and refers to how we can relate to the self with kindness. Self-compassion or self-love is NOT to be confused with arrogance or selfishness. In actuality, arrogance and selfishness stem from the absence of self-love.
But what does it really mean to be kind with ourselves? It means that on a day-to-day basis we are mindful of being courteous, supportive and compassionate with ourselves. Too many individuals treat themselves with harsh judgement instead of compassion.
Why is this important? Because self-compassion helps us recognize our unconditional worth and value. It allows us to recognize though we my sometimes make bad decisions, we’re not bad people.
Research, over the past decade, has shown the parallel between self care and psychological wellbeing. Those who recognize self-compassion also tend to have better connections with others, are reportedly happier with their own lives, and have a higher satisfaction with life overall. Self-compassion also correlates with less shame, anxiety and depression.
Now that you know the what and why of self-compassion, let’s look at the how.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
You would never harshly judge or belittle a small child the way you do yourself. You would only want to help and love that child. When you begin to treat yourself as you would a small child, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness and kindness.
Every minute your mind is handling millions of bits of information, though you consciously are only aware of a few of them. This is to say we all have scripts or programs running in our minds 24/7. These scripts and programs are running our lives, insisting we have certain behaviors and make certain decisions.
Some of these scripts are the ones that tell us how “bad” or “unlovable” we are. They’ve been running since we were kids. The way to quiet these scripts is to become more mindful of your own mind.
When you begin to have a feeling or reaction to something, stop and ask yourself WHO is feeling that? Is it the compassionate self or the program running? If it’s the program, thank the program for what it has done and release it.
Good Will vs Good Feelings
Self-compassion is a conscious act of kindness we show ourselves; it’s not a way to alleviate emotional pain. Life happens, and we can’t always avoid negative or sad feelings. Never mistake self-compassion as a tool to ignore your deep and rich emotional life.
These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you’d like to explore more options or talk to someone about your feelings of self-rejection and judgement, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how cognitive therapy may help.
How many parents have said at one point or another, “I wish my child would have come with a users’ manual,”? Nearly every single one.
Nothing can really prepare us for parenthood. No class, no advice, and no user manual can give us the tools we require for raising happy and healthy kids. The truth is, to be good parents requires us to be conscious parents.
Mindfulness – It’s Not Just for Meditation
Your 8-year-old runs in from the backyard, excited to tell you about the frog he just found in a puddle. Before you even recognize his joy and desire to share that joy with you, you yell because of the mud he just tracked into the house.
Was this reaction really warranted? Were you reacting just to the mud on the floor (which can be cleaned), or do you have a need to control everything in your environment at all times? And does this need stem from your own childhood wounds?
Often parents react to their children subconsciously. That is, they have a knee-jerk reaction to something their child says or does. This reaction may stem from an event that occurred in their own childhood and, without realizing it, they are having a profound reaction to it instead of to their child’s current behavior. Conscious parenting requires mindfulness, and mindfulness requires a parent to be fully present in the moment. Bringing our full awareness into the ‘now’ can help us recognize the meaning and truth in each moment and make better, healthier decisions.
Mindful parents are less likely to have automatic, unexamined reactions to their children’s behavior. Staying present also means parents are less likely to “pop back” into their own childhood traumas and wounds.
Getting Started with Conscious Parenting
Conscious parenting is easier than it sounds. To start, you’ve got to slow down so you recognize when you are reacting to a present moment authentically and when you are reacting to your own past moment.
And speaking of slowing down, try and take a three-second pause before reacting to anything your kid does. This small space will allow you to check yourself. Does the reaction you were about to have match the actual situation? If not, what WERE you reacting to?
And finally, forgive yourself for any past parenting errors. We all do the best we can do. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”
Speaking with a therapist may help you discover old wounds and programming you are parenting from. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be very happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
“Try, try again…”
“Dust yourself off and start all over again…”
“Get right back on that horse…”
These are just some of the common phrases we use to support the idea that trying something after it didn’t go so well the first time is a good idea. And in many instances, this is the right attitude. But there is something to be said about taking a break after a breakup.
When you’ve ended a difficult marriage or relationship, you may feel like putting yourself back out there and start dating again. But here are some reasons why it’s best to stay single for a while:
You Need to Process
The longer and bigger the relationship, the more events and feelings you’ll need to process. Dating is a great distraction from your feelings, and that is exactly why you need to remain single for a while. It’s important to process all of your feelings regarding the relationship and the breakup. Ignoring your feelings will only cause them to fester.
You Need to Learn
Every heartbreak in life is an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. Now is the time for you to think about what went wrong in the relationship and why? What was your part in it? What could you have done better? How will you choose your next partner based on your experiences?
Failure to truly understand your relationship history will only cause you to make the same exact mistakes.
You Need to Grow
You can either bring an excessive amount of emotional baggage to your next relationship, or you can bring a new version of you that is whole and healthy and vital. Now is the time to nurture yourself and your passions. What hobbies have you been ignoring because of your broken relationship? Have you been wanting to take a night class? Learn a new language or travel more? The more time you spend on yourself now to grow as a human being, the more you will have to offer that next Mr. or Mrs. Right.
Breakups are never easy, but they are often a part of life. The key is to not rush into the next relationship but take some time to reflect on the one that just ended. What can you learn and how can you grow?