On its face, self-compassion appears simple, and obvious in its explanation and origin. If you delve a little deeper, you will find that although it is designed to be simple enough for everybody to use and benefit from, it also has some unexpected nuances. Let’s look at three of these mysteries. 1. Born Out Of Fear. 2. Undo The Burden Of Past Relationships. 3. More Is Much Better Than Less.
1. Born Out Of Fear
The present iteration of self-compassion practice, namely self-compassion psychology, marks its starting point as the person’s tendency to be self-critical. New research has shown it to be effective in addressing most things from body issues, to health concerns, to anxiety, depression, diet, stress, and even work productivity and effectiveness. However, self-compassion was initially constructed thousands of years ago to help Buddhist monks endure the fear associated with wild jungle creatures, as they sought to teach people pragmatic ways to manage their difficult experiences with greater ease.
When I tell people this, there is almost a gut reaction to deny having the experience of fear. Fear is necessary. It is why you do not walk in front of cars multiple times a day. It is why you turn off the garbage disposal before you clean the dishes. It is what prevents you from walking down dark, unprotected alleys. In short, it has the power to save your life. The problem for us is that sometimes a particular fear gets in the way of the life we want to live, and for that we have self-compassion.
2. Undo The Burden Of Past Relationships
Talk to someone long enough, and they will probably give you more information than you have ever desired to know about one of their past, terrible relationships. Honestly, it is good that they are getting it out in view of others that could support their need to pursue more fulfilling, and sometimes less scary relationships. Yet, one thing is for sure, if they do not have a way to heal those relationship experiences internally, then they will likely find a relationship similar to the old one to continue the work they have left behind.
Self-Compassion is one way to begin to heal the old wounds. It allows you to acknowledge the experience when it arises, and to process it with kindness. This makes the pain experienced with this memory less over time, and the insights gained more. In addition, the self-compassion phrases are set up to help you advocate for a healthy, happy life, and to not settle for a life that does not afford you this level of well-being. The more you practice self-compassion, the more you begin to piece together the elements that you need to live a good life. Then, while out in the world, you become a much more accurate seeker of these needs, which leads you to happier, healthier relationships.
3. More Is Much Better Than Less
For a lot of things, less is more. You focus on quality instead of quantity. Of course, you want great quality in your self-compassion practice, but the quality comes most noticeably from practicing often, and in simple ways. When you find yourself at the grocery store, and you are a little short on cash, the stress comes up, and you greet it with kindness instead of contempt. Softening in this small way allows you to be a little bit more considerate to yourself all day, which will yield rewards in better health and more competent decision-making.
As you practice self-compassion, you will adjust the technique to match your lived experience. You either feel more at ease or you do not. You either feel like your mind is more clear of nagging distractions, or remains clouded by them. As you find more ease and clarity, you will store these approaches as helpful, and use them more often. The approaches that do not get you these results will be discarded.
So, were you surprised? If not, then you have truly learned much about self-compassion in a short period of time, and you should be proud. If you were surprised, then you should congratulate yourself for having the openness to better understand a practice that will hopefully get you all the things you have long desired. No matter your experience, take some time today to acknowledge how hard your body and mind work to process the challenges you meet every day. This insight, alone, should be all that you need to give yourself a healthy dose of compassion, and some warm, friendly, unabashed kindness.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 142. In The Books.