How to Practice Self-Compassion

 

Self-compassion, like mindfulness, is a practice. For many of us it may not come easy and may even seem totally foreign. There’s strong evidence in the research to support self-compassion as a reliable way to build inner resources and strengthen our sense of self and belonging.

In this video, I discuss self-compassion and teach a simple 3-step practice for directing loving kindness towards oneself.

Tips for When Things Fall Apart

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With our current state of affairs in the nation and in the world, it’s important to practice self-care so we can continue to show up ready to serve the greater good.
1. Go within first. If you encounter a difficult story in the news or witness something unjust, take a moment to check in with yourself. Connect with the breath in your body.
2. Be compassionate. Offer yourself self-compassion. As we bear witness to violence and injustice, we experience suffering. Acknowledge this and allow the grief, rage, anger, or fear to process through.
3. Stay connected. Remember that we’re all in this together. There isn’t a us and a them. There’s only an us. Try to cultivate feelings of compassion for others, even if they are behaving in ways that are harmful.
4. Grow the good. The world is full of goodness. We each have so much to be grateful for. Focus on the good all around you and see if you can’t build upon it.

Negativity Bias

Our brains are wired to protect us from harm. Early humans needed to detect and avoid threats such at predatory animals in order to survive and the primitive part of our brain, often referred to as the lizard brain, helped us do just that. This early survival skill  is what we now call the negativity bias, a tendency to see and react to our environment as though it is a threat.

We can thank the bias for our proliferation as a species. We can also attribute our high stress levels and general unhappiness as a species to the bias. Modern humans perceive everyday occurrences, such as misunderstandings and crowded places, as threats thereby kicking the bias into action.

When it’s activated we are in the reactive flight, fight, or freeze mode rather than in a state of presence and calm. I think we can all agree that more presence and calm in our lives will lead to better relationships and increased happiness and well-being.

Here’s a great resource for confronting and dealing with the negativity bias:

https://www.rickhanson.net/how-your-brain-makes-you-easily-intimidated/

Accepting What Is

Acceptance of what is takes practice. It is a practice, in fact. A practice of mindfulness that takes time and attention. In our fast-paced lives we may expect accepting what is to happen quickly, like flipping a switch. Sometimes it may work this way, but the bigger and harder things in life take time to accept and this is okay. When you’re practicing acceptance,  you’re rewiring your brain.

It’s a lot like building muscle mass. If you begin a new exercise program for the purpose of becoming stronger, you don’t expect to end your first workout having achieved the final result of the program, do you? Nope. You know that it will take time. Weeks, months, perhaps even years, depending on where you were at physically when you began and the ultimate goal.

Changing our thinking takes time, too. It begins with small efforts, moments of mindfulness that we build into our days, and it grows from there.

Here’s a great acceptance practice from Rick Hansen:

http://eusophi.com/accept-them-as-they-are/