“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” – Kristin Neff
I woke up this morning a little late and realized I had no clean clothes to wear to work, since I had not left enough time over the weekend to wash them. I was not able to brush my teeth before leaving the house because I’d left my toothbrush on Vancouver Island. I arrived at the office and was greeted by noticing a few mistakes I’d made on a newsletter that was delivered to almost 800 people. In short, I wasn’t feeling great. These mishaps began to spiral in my head and I was soon beating myself up with messages about what I thought these mistakes said about me: that I was unorganized, forgetful, and careless.
I took a deep breath and turned my mind to my next task of the day – writing this post. While thinking of a topic, I found one I’d made a note of month’s ago: self-compassion. I googled the name “Kristin Neff” that I’d written next to it and softened as soon as I started reading the “about” page.
Kristen Neff encourages people to treat themselves with the same compassion they would have for someone else who is suffering. She says that when we do this, we open up space to comfort and care for ourselves in tough moments instead of ignoring our pain. “Most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you accept your humanness,” says Neff.
Neff outlines what she believes to be the three elements of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-kindess invites people to be gentle with themselves instead of angry when things don’t go the way they planned. Common humanity is about acknowledging that you are not alone in your suffering – that it is a part of the human experience. Being mindful about our struggles allows us to gain perspective about our situation and prevent ourselves, in a non-judgmental and receptive way, from getting caught up in a flow of negativity.
For more information on self-compassion and for guided meditations and self-compassion exercises, visit www.self-compassion.org
-Cassandra Van Dyck