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Mindful self-compassion is much more necessary than one can think of. Learn how to be compassionate towards others but first learn to practice self-compassion. Learn how to acknowledge your pain mindfully and show compassion to yourself. Learn how to practice mindful self-compassion.
At times, it becomes quite difficult to breathe in our skin, but life becomes easier when we completely understand that human beings are here to make mistakes and no human is perfect. Wisdom is when we learn to accept ourselves for who we are, show self-kindness and self-love, and acknowledge the pain and needs.
Today we have brought a guide for mindful self-compassion from which you can learn the essentials and practice them in your daily life.
1. What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is the act of proffering compassion to self during times of failure and suffering. It involves comforting and soothing the self and directing self-kindness when feeling very less of themself or when going through a tough time. By practicing self-compassion, we make ourselves feel safe in our own company and provide ourselves with a sense of care.
When we show self-compassion to ourselves, we befriend ourselves, which is the most necessary thing in a person’s life- to be a good friend of themself, because until we are a friend of ours, we can’t be a friend filled with compassion to anyone.
By being a friend of the self, we perceive our pain and concede our suffering without overemphasizing it. Practicing self-compassion not only helps a person to get stable, but it also helps them to grow and sustain compassion for others.
1.1 When to Make It Work
At times we forget that all human beings make mistakes, go through tough times, and that we are not alone in this. It is easy for us to show compassion towards our loved ones or friends when they need it, but we often cannot show compassion for ourselves when we feel down in life and need a shoulder to rely on.
Instead of showing compassion, we become pedantic, point out every little mistake we might have made, and become highly judgmental. We become antagonistic, become our enemy, and as a result, we start to have negative internal thoughts about our existence. While fighting with ourselves, we forget that this is the moment that we need support and a friend, and cradle our own emotional needs.
Some might know it or not, but when we act harshly on ourselves instead of directing self-compassion at meagreness, we tend to threaten ourselves, which puts stress in our minds, eventually resulting in anxiety and depression. We don’t have a guard against ourselves, and when someone is threatening or criticizing us against whom all of our walls are down, we might face severe destruction and hopelessness internally. Ignoring our inner self and feelings, and engaging in self-criticism is inimical to one’s emotional and physical well-being.
The practice of self-compassion washes away the marks of threats that we tend to put on ourselves and embosses a sense of care and kindness, thus reducing stress and increasing the feelings of safety and reliability in our own’s company.
1.2 Self-compassionate and Self-indulgent
Again, a person can think that being self-compassionate means being self-indulgent. They think self-compassion is another form of self-pity. But the thought is fallacious as self-compassion is much more than self-pity. Extending compassion does not make one self-indulgent because you need your love and care more than anyone else in this world.
Research shows that self-compassionate people can handle their pain and distress by looking at it from several perspectives and understanding it better. They are less likely to dwell on the thoughts of how things turn against them at times. When people are not ruminating on lamentable things or conditions, they will be happy, inspired, and motivated and have greater life satisfaction, better mental health, physical health, and relationships.
2. What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of the three core elements that come into the act when we practice self-compassion and also is the first step to emotional healing.
Not only during tough times, but mindfulness means paying attention to any emotive feeling within us. It means creating awareness within ourselves of our pain and other emotions without engaging in self-criticism or being judgmental. By creating a greater connection with their body and emotions, a person can create awareness.
Each of your emotions must be treated with complete mindfulness. Mindfully paying attention to your emotions involves finding their root cause- from where and how they rise.
Replace your state of mental health by breaking down your stress and anxiety levels to zero, which can only be done when you are down the deepest routes to find the causes.
If you have a question in your mind about how you can promote mindfulness, well, some practices and activities can help you be mindful of your emotions.
3. Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC)
Now that we know mindfulness and self-compassion, how do mindfulness and self-compassion go hand in hand?
Well, mindfulness will make you aware of the reason for your pain, and when you are aware of where and why you are hurting, you will be able to provide the emotional need and self-kindness to yourself and get immersed in self-compassion. That is when you will be able to soothe and take care of yourself.
Mindfulness analyses your current situation, and the state you are in, and then self-compassion tries to fulfill your needs at that moment. Mindfulness creates awareness, and self-compassion adds love, care, and kindness to it.
Mindfulness and self-compassion, when implemented together, allow us to live a life without fighting back our emotions and with less resistance towards ourselves.
Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D., the administrator in the unification of the Meditation and Psychotherapy Institute and the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, and Kristin Neff, Ph.D., a famous researcher explorer in the field of self-compassion developed the concept of mindful self-compassion. Christopher Germer has also sharpened his mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy skills and is a lecturer at the Harvard Medical School. Germer and Neff have their mindful self-compassion workbook, which is helpful for the general public.
3.1 How Does It Help?
When a person practices mindful self-compassion (MSC), they go through the process where they coalesce the mindfulness skills with self-compassion, which is a cure for emotional resilience. MSC teaches us to practice evoking compassion toward ourselves when we are in need and will enhance our capacity for emotional well-being.
Life can be lived with greater ease when a person becomes both mindful and compassionate. When inner strength takes over a person completely, they learn to acknowledge all of their imperfections, embrace their inner and outer self and truly realize that all human beings make mistakes and learn from them eventually. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion bring a sense of tranquillity to an individual’s overloaded and hassled life.
There are many practices and exercises under MSC that a person can explore and proceed accordingly and help make the best of these exercises and practices.
4. About Mindful Self-Compassion Program
In a mindful self-compassion program (MSC) program, the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion are refined. It is a pragmatic eight-week program that is offered both in online and offline mode.
MSC is mindful-based compassion training that is quite therapeutic. The program boosts emotional assets to meet emotional trials. In the program, the activities conducted are topic discussion, mindfulness and self-compassion exercises, meditation, group interaction, and practices at the home of self-compassion. Practice will make a mind perfect.
The MSC program is a journey where a person discovers the self and learns how to show kindness. As self-compassion soothes emotional distress and unlocks the box of pain buried deep inside, some difficult emotions are likely to surface when attending the program. As the emotions surface, the person will grow to embrace their flaws and imperfections and shall heal internally.
4.1 MSC Course Benefits
After taking an MSC course, a person shall be able to:
- Comprehend the science behind mindfulness, self-compassion, and their integrants.
- Practice mindful self-compassion daily to live a better life with strong values.
- Shower yourself with self-kindness and not self-criticism.
- Face challenging life aspects and react to them accordingly.
- Transform and nurture relationships.
- Control difficult emotions with greater ease.
- Build emotional strength.
- Self-appreciate even when things go wrong.
- Extend compassion to others to a greater extent.
- Teach MSC skills to others.
The MSC program is for the general public; anyone can attend the program and take the course. The eight-week course and period can turn out to be the best weeks of your life if you are willing to break down all your barriers of negativities.
Before attending any MSC course, the individuals are recommended to read ‘Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff and ‘The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion’ by Christopher Germer as the books are quite helpful and will give the individual a better insight into mindful self-compassion and the course.
Whether you are attending a course or not, you can still read the books as they might help you develop self-compassion towards yourself more easily. Through MSC, we can become warm and supportive companions of ourselves.
Several randomized controlled trials and studies have illustrated that mindful self-compassion reduces stress, anxiety, and depression among people who practice it regularly. Not only do the negative emotions decrease, but side by side, positive emotions increase. Self-compassion, mindfulness, compassion for others, and life satisfaction eventually increase. The person starts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The more a person practices and exercises mindful self-compassion, the more effective the program will be for them.
People who take part in the MSC program are asked to practice mindfulness and self-compassion at their homes for at least half an hour per day during the course, just like one practicing yoga or meditation. One can practice it even without joining the program or after it ends. Days of practice shall turn into weeks and then into years, finally resulting in a good life.
5. Mindful Self-Compassion Exercises
There are several self-compassion exercises available online that can help you to evoke mindful self-compassion in your life. Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the founders of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, has compiled a list of exercises that are the best of them all. As you practice these exercises, do not forget to do meditation to elevate your experience.
Outlined below are the exercises which you can practice:
5.1. How Would You Treat a Friend?
As the name of the exercise suggests, all you have to do is think about how you would treat a friend who is suffering and going through a tough time. The way you will treat them, you shall treat yourself with the same compassion. Write down your compassion towards your friend with the same tone you talk to them, and then write down how you will be compassionate or treat yourself in the same situation.
You will notice the difference that lies between self-compassion and compassionating your friend. After noticing, you must mindfully analyze the components that make you treat yourself differently, with less compassion, from others, and then ponder over the thought of how things would have turned if you evoked compassion in yourself the same way.
5.2. Self-Compassion Break
One can do the exercise at any specific moment. All you have to do is think about a situation that is causing stress or pain to you. When you have it in your mind, speak to yourself by saying these:
- “This is a moment of suffering.
- “Suffering is a part of life.”
- “May I be kind to me?”
- “May I be patient and forgive me.”
- “I am not alone in this.”
These lines will activate mindfulness and help you realize that every other human being has their share of suffering, just like you, and you are not alone in this. Simple words can also soothe and calm you both physically and mentally.
5.3. Exploring Self-Compassion Through Writing
Writing is therapeutic, and it can do numerous wonders. Note down all the things that make you feel like not being able to breathe in your skin. Let all the negative emotions surface so that you can ponder over and experience them to let go of them finally. Note down your feelings too.
Once you are done, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of a loving friend. Settle yourself for some moments after you complete the letter, and then read it and let the words and the compassion they provoke sink in.
5.4. Supportive Touch
A single caring touch from someone who holds an important position in your life can pull you out of the darkest places. A touch can lay down thousands of emotions. Activate your parasympathetic nervous system by using supportive touch and make yourself feel calm, safe, and secure.
5.5. Changing Your Critical Self-Talk
The goal of this exercise is to acknowledge how you talk to yourself when you self-criticize. Mark all your words and talking tone. You will notice and feel that you have not shown kindness and compassion to yourself and how harsh you become at times. When you realize these, all you need to do is re-route your steps and self-compassionate yourself instead of criticizing. Your aim should be to motivate yourself with encouragement and not to demotivate with criticism.
5.6. Self-Compassion Journal
One should track down their daily life in a journal. Tracking down events in a journal is quite a healthy and beneficial task. When you are doing it to exercise self-compassion, you will eventually notice the changes within yourself after you note down your difficult emotions and events and treat yourself with kindness.
5.7. Identifying What You Want
identifying your wants and needs is salient and imperative. Instead of holding on to all the things you have, pick out those things that bring peace to your life and repudiate the rest. Form your inner dialogue, which you can always repeat when you lose control, and things go down. The dialogue will be supportive and encouraging for you when it is time. Be your mentor and change your behavior and thinking for the benefit of you.
5.8. Taking Care of the Caregiver
The caregiver for yourself is you most of the time. When you care for the caregiver, you shall get the love and care back with more intensity. Nurture yourself and let the caregiver do its magic.
6. Self Observations
Practicing self-compassion can be a daunting task when your mind is crowded with self-criticism, negative thoughts, and emotions. The first step to self-compassion practice is to push away all the negativities out of your mind. Again this can be a daunting task, but when a person tries and is determined to work on it, they shall succeed.
Understand the barriers mindfully that stand as a hindrance between you and self-compassion. One of the best ways to understand yourself is to write down your feelings. As penning down your emotions and thoughts is also a part of the exercises compiled by Kristin Neff, you are assured that it is very fruitful. After you have written down everything, question yourself that:
- How do you feel after you have penned down your emotions?
- What are the beliefs that you have which should not be there?
- How did these beliefs arise?
- How would your life have turned out if you had other beliefs instead of these?
After you know what your barriers are, the next things to do are:
- Developing awareness for triggers
- Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion
- Exploring difficult emotions without blocking them
- Embracing all of your shortcomings
- Being your good friend
Books and workbooks are also great resources to give you knowledge of mindful self-compassion so that you can act accordingly. Some of the books and workbooks that you can rely on are:
1. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, by Christopher Germer
2. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff
3. The Compassion Book: Teachings for Awakening the Heart, by Pema Chödrön
4. Mindful Compassion, by Paul Gilbert and Kunzang Choden
5. Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program (for professionals) by Kristin Neff
1. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer
2. The Compassionate Mind Workbook, by Elaine Beaumont and Chris Ions
3. The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook: A 14-Day Plan to Transform Your Relationship with Yourself, by Tim Desmond
4. The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens, by Karen Bluth & Kristin Neff
That was a piece of brief information that you must know about self-compassion, mindfulness, and mindful self-compassion.
Initiate your research to know more about the science behind mindful self-compassion; who knows; you might come across eye-opening and life-changing pieces of knowledge. Learn to practice self-compassion mindfully and witness the changes for yourself that it shall bring on the journey.
Attend a mindful self-compassion program, take an online course or offline, at least once in your life. What you will learn from healthcare professionals at the Center for Mindfulness through self-compassion training can help you a lot. Mindfulness-based randomized controlled studies and trials are proof that MSC is effective.
Spread the word about mindful self-compassion among your family, friends, and all the others who you know, ow and help them cure their stress, anxiety, and depression through a mindfulness-based program.
Also read: Importance of Acknowledgement in Relationships