For a moment mindfully consider the concept of self-compassion. While reflecting, notice what the experience of self-compassion looks and feels like. Allow yourself to be an observer – noting any words, images, memories, judgments, or sensations that arise.
Now let’s get a bit meta:
Reflect on your reflection of self-compassion. Did the exercise leave you feeling warm, comforted, disconnecting or undeserving?
Is your self-compassion “good enough”, are you doing self-compassion accurately, would your definition fit the experts? Truth be told, self-compassion can’t be boiled down and applied by a robust definition. It’s an emotionally unique experience that deserves emotionally unique care! Therefore, as we sail along this self-compassion journey here together, you’ll get to create a stronger awareness towards what it is, what it isn’t, and how to apply adaptive skills to boost it!
Working with kids, adolescents, and emerging adults, I’ve seen the incredible impact self-compassion has on individuals. Without unfortunate fail, whenever I’ve asked “how would you rate your self-worth” paired with “how would you rate your self-compassion” the response is always “awful/nonexistent/bad” or just a straight up thumbs down. Diving in further, the reactions towards the concept of self-compassion is met with thinking that it’s tacky, it feels undeserving, it was never received externally so they’re left literally fumbling to understand how to apply it internally, or assuming it will make them weak.
All reactions deserve validation, as our society has created a skewed image on what it means to be mindfully attentive, kind, and forgiving towards oneself. From the fun consumer catchphrase “treat yo’ self” to the gender projected “just be a man” or the extremely minimizing “it could be worse” all send confusing messages on how to console hardship. Therefore, validation is to be had when one struggles to see the benefits of self-compassion, however challenging this notion is the first step!
Whether we feel deserving of it or not, self-compassion supports many of our fundamental needs. Because pictures are often more interesting than words; Emma Seppala, the writer of The Happiness Track, provides a great look into The Scientific Benefits of Self-Compassion through an infographic.
Create a timeline! On the timeline mark moments you have recognized the need for self-compassion (examples in memories of: failures, mistakes, hardship, struggles, insecurities, self-consciousness, shame). Consider the effects that have occurred internally and externally, due to the lack of self-compassion applied.
Next time we will examine and debunk some of the assumptions about self-compassion: What is it not?