Self-compassion is fundamental to a healthy mind, heart, and body, as well as creating healthy relationships, families, and environments. Yet, many of us were not adequately taught by our families or others how to be non-judgmental, kind, and compassionate with ourselves. So, when we’re under stress, we tend to use our default ways of responding. Going through a pandemic, most of us are already feeling a lot of stress and lack of patience, which makes self-compassion more necessary than ever.
If we were programmed to be self-blaming instead of self-compassionate, each time we judge ourselves, we chip away at our self-confidence.
Self-compassion can instead open up the doors to our happiness and our day-to-day joyful mood and experiences. It allows us to love the wholeness of who we are, in every situation, by inviting the wholeness of our emotions. By developing our self-compassion, every difficult situation we go through increases our self-love and self-confidence, rather than deteriorating it.
In the words of my teacher, Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., “Compassion acknowledges our vulnerability and brings out our strengths so that we can be a lamp, a bridge, a source of medicine to the hearts of others and ourselves.”
Here is a list of 10 questions that you can ask yourself, in order to gauge how compassionate you are with yourself. Simply reflect on how high you would rank yourself on these statements, on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being “I never do this” and 5 being “I always do this”):
Questions to ask:
- When I’m struggling, I kindly acknowledge my struggles and difficulties
- I am kind to myself when I fail at something or couldn’t achieve something
- I remind myself that failing to make something happen is part of being human
- I give myself permission to feel all of my emotions
- I am loving to myself when I feel afraid, anxious, or can’t stop worrying about something
- I am loving to myself when I feel shameful, embarrassed, angry over seemingly nothing
- I have a kind and understanding relationship with my emotions, especially the difficult ones
- I can be non-judgmental when I witness my own harsh self-talk
- I easily generate self-talk that is supportive and comforting (i.e., I remind myself that my effort is valuable and meaningful.)
- When I’m struggling, I treat myself with as much kindness as I give to others
- I trust in myself to be loving and kind when times are hard
If you gave yourself high ratings (a lot of 5’s), congratulations! If you have some low ratings, then here’s a three-step process you can employ now to increase your level of self-compassion:
Select two areas that you want to develop, and then prime yourself for the next occurrence by staying mindful of when one of the described issues happen. When it does, use the PRO method for a minute or two:
1. Pause: When you’re aware it’s happening, pause and notice it
- Witness it instead of being it
- Get gently curious about it
- Practice acceptance and loving-kindness
2. Relax: Your body
- Breathe deeply and gently
- Notice how your body and mind calm with each breath
- Add more acceptance and loving-kindness
3. Open: your mind to your environment (sights, colors, sounds, smells)
- Move that mindfulness into the present situation
- Face the world with pride for having done this
- Go back to what you were doing, while being curious about when it’ll happen again
Wherever you are in your ability to be self-compassionate during these stressful times, it’s okay. It’s simply another thing to be compassionate about. This a very learnable skill that takes practice, and sometimes requires professional support. If you feel you’d like to work directly with me in order to develop your self-compassion more quickly and deeply, please feel free to give me a call. I wish you a life full of self-compassion and joy.