Caring for ourselves and others
The world needs more compassion, care, kindness and love, and the first place to start with compassion is ourselves.
Self-compassion is not only relevant but critical to living a healthy life.
Words of wisdom from many traditions tell us we should love others as we love ourselves, do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Love thy neighbour as thyself.
Kristen Naff PhD of the mindful self-compassion program is a world authority on self-compassion. She says that there are now many hundreds of scientific studies and published research articles showing the values of self-compassion. These studies link an increase in self-compassion with a reduction in anxiety, stress and an increase in resilience and coping skills.
What actually is self-compassion?
Compassion is linked with words like empathy, care, concern, understanding, sensitivity, kindness, consideration, tolerance, humanness and mercy. Directing these qualities towards ourselves would mean having kindness, understanding, care, consideration and tolerance towards ourselves.
Where does that leave the critical, self-judging, harsh voice that resides within us all, sometimes barely recognised other times blindingly obvious. It means we have to harness, override, train or learn to ignore this voice or this line of thinking and cultivate something else. Retrain the brain, rewire ourselves and engage in positive neuroplasticity.
We can learn to recognise our thoughts and then make a choice to change them.
By changing our thoughts we alter the neural circuits and connections in the brain and build a brain capable of greater self-compassion.
Mindfulness is a key element in this restructuring and renovating process. Mindfulness is the capacity to be with, to notice, to recognise and observe the flow of thinking as it occurs moment by moment. As you may be gathering, this capacity to be mindful will be very helpful in first recognising what thoughts we are having and then allow some capacity to make a choice about the thoughts we focus our attention upon or cultivate.
The biggest block most people face to this practice of self-compassion is the fear that they will lose motivation or the will to succeed and win. What will drive us forward and energise us if we no longer have that harsh, critical voice to get us out of bed and off to work or school. Research shows the opposite; by creating a state of stress, fear of failure and performance anxiety the harsh critical voice actually means we are less likely to succeed and more likely to have a sense of failure or defeat.
To accept myself unconditionally, with self-compassion means that I will accept not being perfect, my potential to fail and accept this as part of being human. I can accept that I will have difficult emotions and experience struggle but by practising self-care, kindness and compassion I can transform these times into opportunities for love and care.
If I can accept myself and feel compassion towards myself, then I am more available and more able to accept others, show compassion, kindness and love.
As a parent, this feels like a vital strategy towards raising healthy and resilient children.
If I am a supportive and caring friend to myself, I can be actively motivated to help myself and to recognise my imperfection. I will have greater resources available to support my family and share in a sense of common humanity with them and others in the wider world community.
Begin your practice of self care, kindness and love now. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and cross your arms around your body. Choose to be on your own side. Be your own best friend. As you breath draw in the sense of love, care and connection. Repeat this many times in a day until it becomes easy and natural.
It is impossible to get too much love.
The more you are filled the more you are able to share with others.
I would love to hear your feedback on how this goes for you and any differences you begin to notice. Feel free to message me at my website.