Self-compassion is rooting for your suffering to end. Self-compassion takes strength, courage, and faith. The key is to rest in the comfort that you can be your own inner ally.
True compassion is the ability to be sympathetic, empathetic, as well as having the desire to alleviate our pain and suffering. And it’s from the depths of our own heart that compassion is born.
Irrespective of where you are in life, no matter what pain you’ve experienced or mistakes you’ve made, your future is spotless, and you can begin again. One small step at a time, you can practice self-compassion and move in the direction of greater health, happiness, and joy.
The first step to self-compassion is mindfulness – learning to pay attention to our moment-to-moment experiences without judging them. We can’t be kind to ourselves unless we first acknowledge we are in pain. In tough times, mindfulness helps us pause, breathe, and see our suffering clearly.
The second step is kindness. Self-compassion adds the gentle touch of care when we are in pain. When things go wrong, we often try to suppress the pain, berate ourselves, or leap into problem-solving mode. But once again: Imagine how you might support a friend who is suffering. Would you tell your friend to forget about it? Would you call your friend an “idiot”? Would you instantly try to fix the problem? Or would you offer your friend kindness, and let them know you care—that no matter what happened, you love them?
Try the following self-compassion practice. One easy way to care for and comfort yourself when you’re feeling badly is to give yourself supportive touch. Touch helps to calm us down and feel safe. It might feel awkward or embarrassing at first, but you’ll see that your body will respond to the physical gesture of warmth and care.
If we are just a bit more loving to ourselves today, those around us will feel our acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion too.
One easy way to care for and comfort yourself when you’re feeling badly is to give yourself supportive touch. Touch activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us calm down and feel safe. It might feel awkward or embarrassing at first, but you’ll see that your body will respond to the physical gesture of warmth and care.
You might like to try putting your hand on your body during difficult periods today.
- When you notice you’re under stress, take 2-3 long, slow, deep, breaths.
- Gently place your hand over your heart, feeling the gentle pressure and warmth of your hand. If you wish, place both hands on your chest, noticing the difference between one and two hands.
- Feel the touch of you hand on your chest. If you wish, you can make small circles with your hand on your chest.
- Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
- Linger with the feeling for as long as you like.
Some people feel uneasy putting a hand over the heart. Feel free to explore where on your body a gentle touch is actually soothing. Some other possibilities are:
- One hand on your cheek
- Gently stroking your arms
- Crossing your arms and giving yourself a gentle squeeze
- Hand on your abdomen
- One hand on your abdomen and one over heart
Hopefully you’ll start to develop the habit of physically comforting yourself when needed, taking full advantage of this surprisingly simple and straightforward way to be kind to ourselves.
When you are finished, take a moment to thank yourself for cultivating pathways of self-compassion. Feel the wholesomeness of this practice, and trust that the seeds you have planted will continue to grow and blossom. Self-compassion takes strength, courage, and faith. The key is to rest in the comfort that you can be your own inner ally.
*Adapted from the work of Dr Kristin Neff
If you need help on your journey, reach out to me.