Compassion is a powerful tool, helping those around us to succeed. Self-compassion is equally potent, and within our own hands!
In the previous article, we explored the emerging science of self-compassion. It’s an immense force that enhances our psychological and emotional wellbeing, our relationships, and even reaches deep into our body to strengthen our immune systems.
When you add that it’s almost impossible to achieve meaningful personal growth without it, practicing self-compassion becomes a no-brainer! But where do you start?
Let’s go back to our imaginary exercise … the one where you’d been approached by a dear friend for help in rebooting her life. We walked through the steps you would take to help her, with compassion being a powerful enabler. Not surprisingly, to develop self-compassion, you simply follow these same steps.
First, you must be self-attentive. You have to be open to that little voice within that is asking for help.
Next, you must listen, truly listen to that voice. It’s not enough just to hear it. You have to understand what it is asking, and why.
You must listen with empathy. Self-empathy is a difficult concept. It is not self-pity. We would be unlikely to meaningfully help a friend if we simply pitied them. We’re far more likely to step up if we feel their pain deeply, as if it were our own. So too with ourselves.
You must listen without judgement. Most of us are too quick to find weakness in ourselves, and we slip into habitual self-criticism too easily. To be self-compassionate, we must understand our perceived failure in an appropriate context, neither blaming others, nor ourselves. By practicing more pragmatic self-scrutiny, we become more adept at evaluating our situation without either suppressing or over-identifying with our emotional pain.
When you listen to yourself with empathy and without judgement, you will begin to enjoy self-compassion.
When you reach this state, the balance of internal self-talk becomes positive. You can accelerate this phase by deliberately driving positive self-talk, while minimizing limiting negative self-talk, until you feel understood, respected, trusted and affirmed by the person whose opinion you care about most – yourself. Serious transformation starts when you feel worthy of your desired future self. You’re then ready to be courageous, to set goals, to impose self-discipline, to measure your progress, and above all … to celebrate your inevitable success.
That’s the kind of friend we all want to help. Are you ready?