December Spotlight: Self Compassion

Self Compassion

The month of December reminds us to think of others as we celebrate the holiday season, but it does not mean we forgo taking care of ourselves. In fact, making one’s self a priority, practicing being kind, patient, understanding and gentle with ourselves, is essential to creating a solid foundation so that we are more capable of being there for others.
Self-compassion means being kind, loving and accepting of yourself, especially in moments of perceived failure, inadequacy or general suffering. Self-compassion helps us respond to our emotions in a more balanced, flexible way. It takes conscious effort to undo some of the patterns of behaviour that have been ingrained in us from past experiences, unhelpful societal norms, and internalized messaging. It takes practice and time to shift our thinking and check ourselves when we fall back into unhealthy thinking that no longer serves us.
The act of loving one’s self, truly, deeply, consistently and authentically, is rooted in the practice of self-compassion. Listening to our needs and wants, giving ourselves grace, owning our vulnerabilities and accepting ourselves as we are in the present moment, are ways we can honour our own human experience, and in turn, others.
Self-compassion grounds self-care, it is deeper than engaging in wellness activities, it is a way of being that promotes and cultivates opportunities for us to genuinely care for ourselves. Setting boundaries, paying attention to our intuition, giving ourselves permission to rest and play and being present rather than worrying about the future or ruminating on the past.
Tips for practicing self-compassion:

1) Self kindness:

Treat yourself as you’d treat a friend. Why is it our inner voice is so quick to name call, berate or critique us? Chances are we would not respond to a friend in the same way when they have experienced hardship, but we are often inclined to do this to ourselves. Self0compassion challenges our inner voice and leans into our faults with kindness, reminding us of our strengths and our humanity. No one is perfect, give yourself permission to make mistakes. Care for yourself as you would others. Affirmations, positive messages we tell ourselves, can help us cultivate self-kindness within.

Affirmations for self-compassion:

  • I am enough.
  • I am learning every day.
  • I am worthy of respect.
  • I deserve to take up space.
  • I am kind and patient with myself.
  • I deserve love and happiness.
  • I am constantly growing and forgive myself for my mistakes.
  • I can let go of the things I cannot change.

2) Deepen and develop your self-awareness

Meet yourself with curiosity and openness rather than judgement and self stigma when experiencing difficult emotions such as sadness, or anger. This gives space for introspection and aims to keep our feelings in balance when we experience something upsetting.

3) (Re)Gain perspective

This is especially helpful when we fail at things that are important to us. Taking a few steps back to look at the big picture from all angles. This may involve reaching out to others who may help reflect back what you are experiencing for further understanding, validation or acceptance. When we share with others, we realize we are not so alone and are reminded of our humanity.

4) Mindfulness

Is one of the most effective practices to developing self-compassion and can include nurturing meditations, deep breathing exercises and body scans. Mindfulness can help us move through painful emotions and feelings in a neutral, non-judgemental and accepting way:
  • Become attuned to the painful feelings which often spark self-judgment and unconstructive self-talk;
  • Identify, label, and accept our emotions;
  • Recognize them as transient and fleeting, and realize that they will pass;
  • Investigate them and understand their causes (within reason); and
  • Release ourselves from the need to control them.
If you would like to learn more about self-compassion and compassion in the workplace, Care For All In Education will be offering a free course on “Awakening Compassion in the Workplace” November 17, 2022. Please register online at www.careforallineducation.com/events

Recommended Reading:

Radical Compassion

Brach, T. (2020)
NY: Penguin

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Brown, Brene

Self-Compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself

Neff, K. D. (2011)
New York:  William Morrow