It's relatively easy to show up for a friend who's in pain with feelings of compassion. You know, meeting them where they're at. Most of the time you realize they don't want advice, but they just want to be heard and understood without feeling rushed. You would never judge them for feeling their feelings right?
When you're going through the darker and twisty-er parts of life though, it can feel overwhelming and downright confusing to do what they say and "talk to yourself like you'd talk to a friend".
Cool, you think, you would love to do that, but it doesn't feel as easy as they are making it out to be.
Largely this stems from not knowing what self compassion truly means and looks like.
What is self compassion?
Self compassions means that you are touched by your own suffering, that you're open to it and not disconnecting from what you're feeling. It means that you see your negative emotions with a nonjudgmental attitude, and hold them with kindness.
Self compassion is badass because it transforms our suffering in a way that breeds resilience and and teaches us how to cope with lifes storms, which we will all inevitably face.
There are three main components of self compassion, and understanding them allows you to tap into that advice of "talk to yourself the way you'd talk to a friend" with a more authentic approach.
- Self Kindness: Brene Brown once said something like this "what makes you so special, that you are the only person you don't show kindness too?", We allow kindness to pour out of ourselves to others, but when it comes to our own struggles and life, we don't even know where to begin. Self compassionate people allow themselves to evaluate the circumstance in which they are in that led them to feel the way they are feeling. They see the emotional toll of the situation and embrace their feelings with warmth and kindness. Instead of saying "I suck for eating candy", they may look at the situation that led to the overeating of candy. Perhaps seeing how busy their day was and how they felt so overwhelmed not feeling comfortable enough to reach out for assistance on that project for work, so they overate. Now being able to see this, they offer themselves kindness seeing there was more to the story than just overeating.
- Common Humanity: This is one of my favorite aspects of self compassion. When you are in deep self criticism and negative emotions, it's easy to isolate yourself and feel like you're the only person in the world feeling what you're feeling. The common humanity aspect to self compassion realizes that all people fail, mess up and feel inadequate to some degree. So when we can identify our pain within in common humanity, we can feel less alone in our negative emotions.
- Mindfulness: There is a difference between mindfulness and compassion, mindfulness is the ability to be nonjudgmental towards your feelings and emotions, bringing awareness to each experience, negative., positive or neutral. Before you can even begin to feel compassionate towards yourself, you must reign in a sense of mindfulness to be aware of what it is you're feeling. Being able to do this allows you to shake away more of the dramatic storylines your negative emotions are telling you and helps you gain perspective on the current situation.
How can you practice compassion in motion?
With mindfulness being one of the largest and most important aspects to understanding self compassion because it allows you to first become aware of what it is you are truly feeling, beginning your journey into self compassion can start with mindfulness practices.
- Guided mediations like this one, which is my favorite:
- Belly breathing: With one hand on your chest and one on your belly, breathe in through the nose and feel your belly rise FIRST, then out through the mouth, feeling your belly relax. Doing this calms your central nervous system and allows you to get more comfortable in your current experience of life. Seriously, I know it sounds too simple to even work, it changed my life and my clients too.
- Train of thought journaling. This means just writing everything as it's coming to you, without judging it or trying to make sense of it.