Kindness is an underrated trait. Let’s talk about self-compassion & the benefits of embracing being kind to ourselves...
We are usually harsher to ourselves than anyone else but we won’t spend any more time with anyone except ourselves, so applying the concept of making that space inside our heads a pleasant place to be, treating ourselves as we would a friend makes sense.
We are inherently really tough on ourselves but it doesn’t actually serve us or make us more efficient, productive, successful or accomplished. In fact, it can cause us more harm – the Buddhists call this the double arrow.
Something happens that causes us pain, we might not get the promotion we were hoping for, that first date with the guy we really thought we had a connection with was a disaster, we argued with our partner, snapped at our kids, whatever it is, that is the first arrow.
If we then go on to beat ourselves up about it, allow that inner critical voice to run riot berating ourselves all we are doing is hurting ourselves again, the double arrow. It doesn’t inspire us it just causes us more pain & suffering.
The problem with self-criticism is that judging & criticizing ourselves doesn’t make anything better, usually it makes things worse – the double arrow. The best way to counteract self-criticism is to have compassion for it, replacing it with kindness & acceptance.
Self-compassion offers all the benefits of self-esteem without any of the drawbacks: people who practice self-compassion have just as high standards they are just likely to be less hard on themselves & their goals are generally more learning orientated. They also tend not to compare themselves to others so much.
Whereas self-esteem can be a roller-coaster as our self-worth rises & falls inline with our latest successes & failures, often coinciding with self-criticism & is often linked to performance related goals & comparison with others.
There are 3 components for self-compassion:
First self-kindness – being gentle & kind to ourselves, treating ourselves as we would a friend.
This was a game changer for me: if we wouldn’t say that out loud to a friend why would we say it ourselves? I started to notice when that inner critical voice was getting on a roll & just stopped myself mid-self-beration, without judgment, just simply stopping & reminding myself if I wouldn’t say that to anyone else why would I say to myself & overtime I realized I was a lot kinder to myself.
Common humanity – a sense that we are all in this together.
Compassion literally means to suffer with. Everyone feels unworthy, disappointed, feels pain & suffering: the pain I feel in difficult & challenging times is the same as the pain you feel in difficult & challenging times, the triggers may be different but the basic experience is the same. When we remind ourselves that failure & / or hardship are part of the shared human experience we see that moment as one of togetherness not isolation.
Mindfulness – embracing the present with a kindful awareness & acceptance.
Mindfulness helps us to recognize that we are suffering so that we can give ourselves compassion.
Self-compassion is a self-perpetuating virtuous circle – there is no finite amount of compassion so the more we express it, the more we cultivate more loving kindness, compassion & understanding for others, then the more we have for ourselves. The more we cultivate compassion, the more it grows & flourishes & the more we have for others & ourselves, often the hardest person to show loving kindness towards. A beautiful virtuous circle. This gives us the space to grow, heal, transform whilst enabling us to become more efficient, productive & creative.
This month’s meditation is my interpretation of a Metta or loving kindness meditation. This will help you to cultivate loving kindness for all including yourself. The yoga practice opens up through our heart centre awakening love, compassion & kindness for all.
If you would like more information on how to practice mindfulness, meditation & yoga message her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For free resources check out her Facebook group: Mindfulness & Yoga for Self-Care, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mindfulnessyoga4selfcare
Alternatively please check out her website: www.alexbannard.com
Alex is based on the edge of the stunning Cotswolds & has been sharing her love for all things yoga & mindfulness for the decade, not just in the UK but also in Thailand & Germany. Her mission is to help everyone discover their bliss within & to encourage them to embrace self-care