For many people, self-compassion is just a new-fangled notion in the self-help world. You hear all the gurus talking about it, see all the articles online and it keeps cropping up on social media too; it can feel like there’s no escape!
But what exactly IS self-compassion anyway and what are the myths and mystery surrounding it?
Being self-aware in the 21st century
Before we get stuck in, lets rewind time back to a generation or two ago when generally speaking the mindset was that life was hard…extremely hard, and that was all there was to it. Men worked long hours in physically demanding jobs, women tended to the family and home. They did this day in and day out with little or no time for themselves.
Today, however, we are more self-aware than ever. Humanity is more evolved, we are conscious creators of our lives and want to make a differences in the lives of others too. Self-help and self-improvement has gone from being a luxury to being part of our daily routine as we realise the fast-paced busyness of life in the 21st century is taking its toll on our mental health and well-being. We’re looking for more meaning, depth and fulfilment in our lives.
What does self-compassion look like?
I mean it sounds great, right? But what does it actually look like IRL?
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.wikipedia.org
Self-compassion means being supportive towards yourself in word, thoughts, and in action. Kristin Neff from self-compassion.org has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main elements – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
There are lots of simple ways you can embrace compassion in your business and as an IRL example, when you make a mistake, rather than than beating yourself up, calling yourself stupid, taking all the blame and going into a negative spiral of self-criticism and doubt about your abilities, you stop and catch yourself…you look objectively at the situation and realise that you are enough, no matter what. You take that mistake as a sign you need to slow down and care for yourself, rather than work harder and burnout. You see that you did your best and everyone will make mistakes sometimes…and that’s OK. You let go of any blame towards yourself and if there was anyone else involved, you release any feelings of anger or blame towards them too.
Now you know what self-compassion is, let’s move on to those FRUSTRATING myths and BUST them!
Myth #1: Self-compassion means you’re self-absorbed and selfish
Say whaaaat?! Some people feel that by doing things just for themselves, that make them happy, and that don’t include others, is selfish. This is far from the truth; when we do things for ourselves, we bring joy to our hearts and in turn, we feel more positive and are more likely to spread that joyfulness to others, so they can feel it in their hearts too – amazing, right?!
If you noted down all the times throughout the day when you spoke unkindly to yourself, you’d be surprised. Imagine the impact that is having on you day in day out?
So ditch the negative inner chatter and embrace the practice of self-compassion. Here are just some of the many benefits:
- Less bitterness and resentment
- More positivity and optimism
- You become a calm and compassionate role model for others
- You feel happier and healthier in mind, body, spirit
When you practice compassion directed inwards, you take the burden off others to always be the ones to soothe you, nurture you, and take care of you. Of course, there may be times when life throws you a curve-ball and you need to lean on others; however, if you practice self-compassion to combat some of the day-to-day stuff, you’ll find your relationships become healthier and more balanced.
Myth #2: Self-compassion is a fad
There is a lot of scepticism around self-help and for good reason…all these self-help tools and techniques don’t work unless you actually DO them rather than just reading about them and hypothesizing about them. After all, reading an article about self-compassion does not make you self-compassionate!
The self-help industry does have a lot of trends, fads and buzzwords and you’d be forgiven for not being taken in by them all, but self-compassion is one thing that’s here to stay – it’s proven, it’s necessary and it can make a massive difference to your happiness and overall sense of well-being.
There has been so much work in the field of personal development and psychology and it’s showing the long-term benefits of self-compassion. Being compassionate to ourselves helps us feel better, work better and play better.
Myth #3: Self-compassion is a bit woo-woo
Self-compassion has nothing to do with being woo-woo, spiritual, religious, or new age. It might feel a bit woo-woo or uncomfortable to start with, especially if you’ve never practised being kind towards yourself before, but the benefits soon get rid of any emotional discomfort.
The main thing to remember is that self-compassion reaps all kinds of positive rewards. Imagine running a project in your business and something goes awry (as things often do). Taking the time, energy, and most importantly the focus off yourself and onto troubleshooting and problem-solving changes the course of the project. Not only does it change the course, it changes the outcome.
Questions to ask when your inner critic is being cold-hearted and shaming you:
Next time that negative inner voice pops up, try asking the following questions with an open-heart and mind:
- Is this narrative helping me or is it harming me?
- Is this inner criticism a fact? Am I a mistake, or did I simply make a mistake?
- How can I use this to rebound quickly and make a better decision next time?
- Where can I learn and grow from this?
Self-compassion comes from a logical place when you challenge that inner critic, so keep on questioning him/her/they, keep dispelling the myths, keep on sharing the benefits with others and see what a massive difference compassion makes to your life and the lives of others.
Do you find self-compassion challenging? Or have you found a way to be more compassionate towards yourself? Either way, feel free to share your compassion story in the comments.