Self-compassion is a funny thing. When we need it most, we are often least “deserving” of it and fairly unwilling to practice it. When we send that e-mail to the wrong person, eat the entire bag of Doritos, snap at our family members, or when it feels impossible to simply get out of bed and get to work, why in the world would we be kind and gentle to ourselves? Shouldn’t we be berating ourselves until we stop making these mistakes, until we are better and can do better? Yes, we have a tendency to unleash the inner critic and beat ourselves up when we fall short of perfection. But it is these very times when we most need to be reminded that we are just “human” and that everything will, eventually, be okay. When we mess up, embarrass ourselves, and act against our own values we suffer! And meeting that suffering with kindness and compassion can be the difference between a few moments of discomfort and an entire week of feeling like a no good, worthless piece of garbage. Practicing self-compassion requires us to face our shortcomings and mistakes and accept ourselves, 100%, as we are in the moment. Flaws and all. Instead of going down the usual path of criticism and condemnation, we must meet our suffering self with a gentle and compassionate attitude as we would our beloved dog, friend, child, or spouse. This is not self-indulgence. This is not being irresponsible. This is believing that because we are human beings with heartbeats, we have the right to make mistakes and to be imperfect, and we have the privilege of meeting our disappointments and failures with a gentle, tender approach. So be encouraged this season, when schedules are busy and tensions are high, that you can meet your own distress with loving kindness and provide yourself with the compassion you need!
Here are some FREE self-compassion resources for more information and practice:
Dr. Kristin Neff’s website has a series of guided meditations and self-compassion exercises: http://self-compassion.org/ (or check out one of her many videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=self+compassion)
Tara Brach’s talk, The Healing Power of Self Compassion: http://www.tarabrach.com/part-1-the-healing-power-of-self-compassion-2/
Or try this 7 minute self-compassion break by Dr. Amy Hurley, one of the co-facilitators of Self-Compassion and Mindfulness program
Remember to let yourself off the hook. Tell your inner self, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.”