Finding Self-Compassion: Thoughts From My Walks With Chopper

Posted by Susan Constan on 4/22/2020 8:00:00 AM


Self-Compassion Journal (PDF) | GoZen!As we get deeper into this new way of schooling from home or ‘continuous schooling’, I find many emotions that arise during the day.  The idea or strategy that continues to come back to me in my morning walks with Chopper that is crucial (especially now) is Self Compassion.  Sadness, fear, anxiety, grief, overwhelmedness, loneliness, controlling - these are but a few of the emotions we may all be feeling right now.  The first step when these ‘big emotions’ arise is to ‘name the feeling’ or “bow to the feeling”. Once we do this, the feeling will begin to soften.  The next step is to bring in a sense of compassion for yourself and for all the emotions that you and your family members may be feeling during this time of change and transition. 

Dr. Kristin Neff, who has made Self-Compassion her life’s work states there are three components to think about as we pursue self-compassion:

  • First, self-kindness: being warm and supportive—actively soothing ourselves—as opposed to being cold and judging toward ourselves.
  • Two, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience—that you’re not alone in your suffering. When we remember this, you can actually feel more connected to other people in those moments.
  • The third component is mindfulness. Be mindful that you are struggling. Use self-talk: “Wait a second. This hurts. This is really hard. This is a moment where I need compassion.” Being aware of the emotions we are feeling and taking the time to acknowledge them is the next step toward self-compassion.

 I thought this was a powerful short video: The Power of Self-Compassion (3.58)

 Try this exercise: 

Suppose your best friend has reached out to you.  They feel FRUSTRATED - LIKE THEY ARE FAILING with ‘school from home’.  Their kids are on screens more than they like.  They are overwhelmed and anxious and feel that they are not doing ANYTHING very well.  As their best friend, you love this person and see all their wonderful qualities.  What would you say to comfort them?  If you were going to write them a letter or email, what would you write?  Now, ask yourself this question - Do I say the same things to myself?  Do I encourage myself the same way that I encourage my best friend?  Seeking to change this inner voice to one of love and empathy (talk to ourselves as we would talk to our best friend) is seeking to cultivate SELF-COMPASSION. 

KIDS CAN DO THIS TOO.  If you see that they are being self-critical, ask them what they would say to their best friend if they were feeling the same emotions.  How would you talk to a friend if they were sad or worried or frustrated with how things are right now?  Have them write it down or draw a picture for their friend and THEN have them change these loving statements or thoughts toward themselves. 

“Mounting research reveals that allowing ourselves to "be human" is a path to greater well-being.  If we quiet our souls and listen to our inner voices, it is clear that self-compassion will always trump self-criticism on the journey toward living a purposeful, meaningful, and engaged life.”

Take Care (of yourself),

Sue (and Chopper)