Covid-19 has brought uncertainty and it is now, more than ever, that compassion can help you to weather the storm.
With kindness and compassion you give yourself the same care that you would give to a good friend.
Easy to say, not always so easy to put into practice. So let’s look at what compassion actually is and at a few ways in which you might all be kinder to yourself.
What is Self-Compassion?
Compassion is about being kind towards yourself when you fail rather than ignoring your pain or judging yourself harshly.
The work of Kristen Neff (at self-compassion.org) is insightful and helpful. She identifies the following 3 elements of self compassion below;
Instead of judging yourself, be kind, you are human and human beings are not perfect. Compassion is about accepting that we are human, that we will make mistakes. When you can sit with this and accept the reality, the more you will feel compassion.
Being human means that we are all vulnerable. Sometimes, however you might feel that you are the only person to be suffering, creating a sense of isolation. Being compassionate means that you accept that being imperfect is part of being human and that it is the same for every person.
Self compassion allows you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, to notice them but not to overly identify with them. In this way your negative feelings are neither suppressed or exaggerated.
5 Ways to Put Self-Compassion into Practice
1. Develop Self Nurturing Activities and Behaviours
Notice the activities that feel nurturing for you and do more of those to look after yourself. For example, you may enjoy walking, running, gardening, reading, or you may find that you enjoy creative activities or all of those activities. Ensure that you have enough sleep and that you eat well, that you aim to nurture your body and your mind.
2. Notice Your Feelings Without Judgement
When you feel that you have failed or made a mistake notice the feelings and allow yourself to comfort yourself. In this way you are acknowledging your feelings without allowing them to overwhelm you. Remind yourself that you are ok and that you are human.
3. Connect with Others
You may not be able to meet up with others at present but you can use the phone and technology to keep in touch and to feel connected. Think about who you want to keep in touch with and send that message or make the call.
4. Let Go of Striving to be “Perfect”.
We are all human and all therefore, have vulnerabilities. Striving for the elusive idea of perfection ( being the perfect parent, son, daughter, friend, colleague or partner, etc) can raise levels of anxiety, self judgement and negative self talk. If, however, you can learn to accept your own vulnerability and humanity and know that you are ‘good enough” you give yourself kindness and space to ease that pressure.
5. Notice Your Self-Talk
Do you find yourself berating yourself about things you did or did not say or criticising yourself for mistakes? Notice this and think about what you might say to a friend in the same situation. Be your own best friend.
Self-compassion is not about being selfish. It is about self care.
It is only when you can learn to be compassionate towards yourself that you can be truly compassionate towards others and the world need more compassion right now!