When compassion is extended to the self when we are suffering irrespective of whether or not we are at fault.
3 main components of self-compassion (Neff, 2011)
- Kindness support towards ourselves rather than judgement. A gentleness when faced with our mistakes or limitations.
- Human rather than abnormal, that being, we focus on the fact we are only human, and as human being we are not flawless, not a single one of us. Therefore we are not alone in our mistakes and limitations.
- Present moment awareness (mindfulness) allows for a balanced perspective of ourselves rather than being hyperfocused on negatives and over personalising with things that have gone wrong.
Why is self-compassion important?
Self-compassion is invaluable in times of difficulty, when our self-esteem takes a hit.
Research has found that self-esteem is a significant predictor of happiness, optimism, positive affect, beyond that of self-esteem. Self compassion has been found to be a vital part of treatment for trauma, depression, anxiety, if we can learn to respond to this pain with kindness and present moment awareness, whilst from a perspective of suffering being a shared human experience.
This is obviously easier said then done.
When we have spent a lifetime (or even a short while) being our own harshest critic, feeling that no one could possibly understand everything we have had to endure, and have always dismissed anything even remotely positive about ourselves or our experiences. This approach can feel like a fairy tale. A “I wish” may have even popped into your head as you were reading this. It takes time to shift, but it is possible.
Some of the ways in which we can practice self-compassion:
(please do not be alarmed if these are too difficult, this is a sign you may need some help in making this shift, and likely an indicator that it would be incredibly powerful to do this inner work).
- Take note of the things you are saying to yourself; now imagine someone you love is saying these things about themselves
- What words of kindness would you offer them?
- How would you help them to feel less alone in their experience?
- Once you acknowledge the negatives, would you point out their positives too?
- A similar approach to above, but slight variation: take note of the things you are saying to yourself; now imagine you are saying this to a younger version of yourself, somewhere between 6-10 years old
- Would you be more gentle with what you are saying, and how there might be a better, more supportive way to approach the difficulties you are having?
- Would you defend younger self, and your human-ness?
- Would you find a way to balance out what has happened with all the greater things about them instead?
- Practice a loving-kindness mediation; This is a powerful way to cultivate more self-compassion, as well as more compassion to others around you as well
Author: Samantha Sheppard, B Psych (Hons).
Samantha is a registered psychologist with experience working with children and adolescents (and their families), young adults and adults. Samantha empowers others with their mental health using a non-judgemental, compassionate approach, and particularly resonates with a social and emotional wellbeing framework.
To make an appointment with Samantha Sheppard try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.
Germer, C. K., & Neff, K. D. (2013). Self‐compassion in clinical practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69, 856-867. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22021
Neff, K. D. (2011). Self‐compassion, self‐esteem, and well‐being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 1-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00330.x