Let’s take a look at Self-Compassion from a Baby’s perspective.
Is a baby flawed because it has a poopy diaper?
No, the baby cries letting those around him or her know they are uncomfortable.
Does a baby entertain the thought, well I shouldn’t cry right now because Mom is having company?
Also is that baby thinking I do not want to interrupt her so I will just hope she smells my dirty diaper?
NO NO NO, that is absurd, but we do stuff like that all day every day to ourselves as if that is normal.
We have become outstanding at sucking it up and taking the biggest detour away from the act of Self-Compassion.
What Does Self-Compassion Mean? Because It’s Not Always That Obvious
Great question and honestly it’s very subjective, meaning it depends on the person and their unique situation.
Self-Compassion for me I’ve discovered is Being Mediocre and acknowledging the everyday gifts right in front of me.
However, I am still compelled to bring some sort of universal light to Self-Compassion in a way you can relate.
My attempt at this is by describing what self-compassion is not first.
It can just be a lot simpler to understand something by understanding what it is not.
Are you with me? Here is a list of situations that DO NOT involve self-compassion.
Dealing With Friends and Family: Non-Self-Compassion Examples
- Your friend makes a comment about what you are doing which you think is great. Unfortunately they don’t see it the same way as you. And as a result, you become deflated and feel like nobody gets you.
- A friend comes to you with a problem asking your advice and you give it freely, only to have them reject it. This leaves you feeling angry and frustrated for even trying to be there for them.
- Dealing with a family member in your life that you LOVE a lot and you cannot understand why they do the things they do. You are constantly trying to figure them out so that maybe you could help them in a way that counts.
- Losing your good mood when your husband or partner comes home in the evening in an angry mood. And instead of maintaining your upbeat groove you become angry along with him or her.
How You See The World: Non-Self-Compassion Examples
- You have committed to finishing a project but you wait till the last minute to do it. This creates an adrenaline rush and a certain level of stress that makes you feel a little crazy.
- Turning on the news because YOU JUST HAVE to know what’s going on in the world. And then you become pissed off, and sad because the world seems like it has gone crazy.
- Wanting to make a difference in the world with your unique talent but then talking yourself out of it. Because there is a voice in your head that says “why would they take me seriously?”
- Having it in your mind that things need to go a certain way today. And when they don’t you LOSE IT.
Interpreting Relationships to Other People: Non-Self-Compassion Examples
- Expecting people to treat you in a certain way. And when they don’t you become disappointed, disheartened, and appalled that they could be so insensitive.
- Prejudging what you think someone is going to say about you before anyone gets a chance. And you do this in an attempt to spare yourself future pain.
- Knowing it would be an outstanding idea to get off the couch after work and go for a walk or a run. And instead, you dive headfirst into another season of a show that allows you to escape your life.
- Saying “YES” to someone when you should have said “NO” because you couldn’t bear disappointing them.
- Being dissatisfied even after people praise your work. Because you just can’t help yourself from finding something wrong with it or wrong with you.
Do anyone of these examples resonate with you?
Can You Now Guess What Self-Compassion Is NOW That You Know What It Isn’t?
Let’s look at a definition and see if we can nail down what it means to be Self-Kind or ultimately Self-Compassionate.
The Lexico which is a branch of the Oxford dictionary in case you were interested says self-kindness to be “Regard for one’s well-being or happiness; kindness directed towards oneself.”
A noted expert in the field named Dr. Kristin Neff purports that “Self–kindness involves generating feelings of care and comfort toward oneself. Instead of being self-critical, self–kindness involves being tolerant of our flaws and inadequacies. It also involves learning simple tools to give ourselves the support we need whenever we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate.”
Dr. Kristin’s definition talks about learning simple tools that can have our backs when we are going through a tough time.
I am a big fan of tools that are practical and don’t require me to have to master them for them to work.
I will talk about a practical tool later on in this article.
Is Self-Kindness Considered Self-Love? And Is Compassion for Self And Others Considered Self-Kindness?
Self-Kindness as I have learned it is a part of the Self-Compassion equation and can be swapped one for the other.
In other words, Self-Kindness is Self-Compassion.
As a result I have learned in my practice working with clients day to day that Self-Kindness is born from healthy Self-Worth.
Unfortunately, there is no way around it. Without Self-Worth, you will give up on Self-Kindness and Self-Compassion for YOURSELF.
Some may call this Self-Worth a form of Self-Love and that’s cool because they can be exchanged and still mean the same thing. Because there is no way I could have a healthy dose of Self-Worth and not Love myself at the same time.
Do you see what I mean?
So it’s like this whole Self-Kindness gig is bigger and more complex than just being simply nice to me.
Please know that you can’t skip over one of these and expect to have a long lasting experience of self-kindness.
So if you feel you have a healthy enough self-worth or you are genuinely ready to start loving yourself in a deeper way let’s start talking about cultivating Self-Compassion.
How Can I Be Gentle On Myself?
This is a great question and a great place to start exploring your options.
For Self-Compassion to even have a fair shake in your life, you have to be willing, to be honest with yourself.
What do I mean?
Well, Self-Compassion is about being willing to acknowledge the parts of your life that may be a shit-show and being willing to HAVE IT NOT DEFINE YOU.
I truly believe we all have parts of ourselves or our lives that we may not be that proud of and by thinking we can sweep them under the rug is not going to facilitate Self-Compassion in a Meaningful Way.
Being gentle with yourself is about putting all your cards on the table without judging them.
You know, the good, the bad, and the ugly all of which deserve our attention because that’s what got us here in the first place.
It’s also how we will become stronger if we allow ourselves the gentleness and patience to be “OK” with the past, present, and future.
How Do You Practice Self-Compassion In A Way That Doesn’t Piss Off Others?
Instituting a Self-Compassion practice can be tough when you have legitimate commitments to kids, partners, spouses, employers, and friends that require your time.
We have lives and they just do not go on hold because we want to take time out for ourselves.
But what if that could be your reality?
Could you be more effective in the world by carving out space for you and this thing called Self-Compassion?
What if it were as simple as taking an extra 5 minutes in the bathroom doing some full-body breaths?
Could an exercise like that reset your perspective allowing the next thing you do to be more grounded and centered?
Yes we can and should do Self-Compassion on the fly and from there if we can start to formally carve out time to meditate, do Yoga, or Journal.
You have to take baby steps towards Self-Compassion and then build up to a formal practice if and when that feels light to you.
Fitting in Self-Compassion throughout the day may be an easier place to start than dedicating yourself to one more thing.
The last thing we want to do is make Self-Compassion a chore.
The Mother Of All Self Compassion Tools; The Art Of The “What” Question
I’ll be honest, I’ve dabbled in self-care practices like yoga, journaling, and meditation without making them a consistent practice.
This inconsistency is something that I like to use to beat myself up about.
Unfortunately, that screws up the whole reason for doing something for myself in the first place.
There is this voice in my head that if it has its way can very effectively trash my reason for being here.
That’s what a lot of us are up against when wanting to practice self-compassion.
But know this, you CANNOT GET RID of that voice because when you try to it will come at you even harder and in more insidious ways.
Our minds are just very clever that way.
So here it is like a knight in shining armor, the question. Yes, the question can save your butt every time.
And not just any question because most questions are disguised as judgments.
Do you ever find yourself saying things like “Why is that happening?” or “How can that person do such a thing?”
If you have, GUESS what? Those questions are disguised as judgments.
“Why is that happening?” implies that there is something wrong because if whatever you are observing was okay then you wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place.
“How can that person be doing such a thing?” is in essence saying that what that person is doing is wrong.
See the pattern here?
The What Question In Action
A true and clean judgment-free question always starts with WHAT?
And when you ask a “WHAT” question you will always get an organic answer like the heavens opened up and made you aware of what was going in a more grounded way.
It’s just how that works and it’s the key to knowing what would be kind to you at that moment. It also lets you know what direction you need to go to find the self-kindness that works for you. All you have to do is ask!
The most beautiful thing about asking a WHAT question is that it will stop you from going into autopilot mode.
You know how we react to things in a knee-jerk sort of way that is not always our best choice.
6 “What” Questions To Lead You To Self-Compassion
The following are WHAT questions that have gotten me and my clients out of some sticky situations and I know they can contribute to you as well.
- What would being kind to myself look like at this moment?
- If I were being honest with myself right not, what am I aware of here?
- What am I refusing to receive here that if I allowed myself to receive it could change everything?
- What change am I refusing that I could be choosing here?
- What am I refusing to let myself know here because I think I cannot handle the change?
When Will I Get An Answer to a What Question?
WHAT questions are great because they will pull you out of the realm of judgment pretty darn quick!
However, please know that answers to WHAT questions can take a little while because it’s like an invitation to something different.
It’s the universe that replies to our request.
You will find that she typically answers when we are ready to receive the answer.
The Universe works on a different schedule than ours which tends to be the I want to have everything NOW mentality.
Let that go and allow yourself to be surprised.
Ask the WHAT question and get the heck out of the way because answers come when we are focused away from the situation or problem we are trying to resolve.
With a little bit of practice asking the WHAT question and getting out of the way of needing to know the answer now, you will become more fluid with your life.
Why Is Self-Compassion Important? And How It Affects Common Humanity
I am sure we have all heard or witnessed the idea that being kind to others is the best way to get along in this world.
What’s not so obvious is what being kind to ourselves can do for the world and our humanity.
Being kind to others without being kind to ourselves is viewed as being selfless and seems to be more valued in this world.
But does being selfless work in the long run?
What I have witnessed with myself, and with my clients is this, being selfless erodes self-worth when it’s not being combined with self-compassion or self-care.
Self-Compassion has to be a two-way street.
It’s a question that looks like this; What contribution can I be that honors me and you at the same time?
I believe this simple shift can have a profound impact on our humanity going forward because the art of self-compassion is a shared experience.
You know when I am compassionate with myself, I cannot help but be compassionate with you.
Because I value myself enough to be compassionate with me then it’s easy for me to find value in you.
Self-Compassion Quotes And Self-Compassion Books To Draw Inspiration From
Be Kind to yourself. Remember that when you abuse yourself, you will experience the anger, regret, and apathy of the bully as well as the depression, anxiety, and insecurity of the victim. Whatever you do, be kind to yourself. Vironika Tugaleva, author of “The Art of Talking To Yourself”
Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. Louise Hay author of “You Can Heal Your Life”
Be nice to yourself…It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time. Christine Arylo, author of “Madly In Love With Me”
Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at. Pema Chodron, author of “When Things Fall Apart”
Beware Of People That Would Have You Believe That Self-Compassion Is A Coping Tool To Deal With Stress
Again we have to dispel what Self-Compassion is NOT!
To be clear self-compassion is not a band-aid to fix your problems rather it is a lifestyle in which to become more awake and conscious.
Self-Compassion is not a coping tool rather it is a tool about living my best life.
Please KNOW that Self-Compassion is a BIG DEAL because it aligns ourselves with our souls and pulls humanity together in a way that is so loving and healing to our planet.
I Understand if that sounds like some pie in the sky woo-woo.
However, that’s where self-compassion will lead us if we let it.
So Now What? Where Do We Go From Here?
Well, you’ve already started by reading this article and becoming aware of what self-compassion is NOT so that you can know what Self-Compassion is.
This is the foundation most of us need so that we can know if we are “DOING IT RIGHT”.
But please do not take seriously the voice in your head that worries if it is doing it right because it is just a smokescreen between what will work for you and what your ego wants.
And that is how the art of asking the “WHAT” question will keep you from no longer having to SUCK IT UP.
You know that autopilot that has us giving ourselves up in favor of others because that’s what we were taught to do.
I hope that you find a little more ease in your life by utilizing the “WHAT” questions and creating your freedom in this world by simply asking “What’s Next?”.
Thank You For Reading!