• What is self-compassion? (And why do you need it?)

    June 9, 2016 | curtrosengren
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    When I talk with people about self-compassion, it continues to amaze me how often people ask, “What is that?”

    That’s not a reflection of any ignorance on the part of the person asking the question. It’s a reflection of how foreign the idea is to the culture we’re all swimming in.

    To varying degrees, compassion for others comes pretty naturally for most of us. But directing that same compassion towards ourselves seems to be an all too uncommon experience (you can read this article on 5 myths about self-compassion for some of the reasons why we seem to be so reluctant to show compassion to ourselves).

    One of the elements of The Aliveness CODE ™ framework involves coming from the heart. That includes externally directed things like compassion and kindness to others, but also internally directed things like self-compassion.

    Kristin Neff self-compassion researcher and author of the book Self-Compassion, points to the many benefits she has seen from self-compassion, including:

    • Lower levels of anxiety and depression
    • Greater resilience when things go wrong
    • More optimism
    • Greater self-esteem
    • Higher levels of happiness
    • Greater life satisfaction

    Self-compassion is one of the topics I will be revisiting frequently in this blog. I think it’s a huge part of “being the change you want to see in the world.” For the moment, I want to start with a video of Kristin Neff introducing the idea of self-compassion and what it actually is.

    Try this:

    For most of us, self-compassion is so far from our habitual way of treating ourselves that it can be hard to even imagine.

    A good way to start building a self-compassion habit is simply starting to build a greater awareness of when you need it. For the next week, just start doing an end-of-day review. Scan back and ask, “Where could I have used a little more self-compassion?” (With the caveat not to use it as an opportunity to beat yourself up for not being self-compassionate enough!)

    You don’t have to make a grand and glorious change and suddenly be the total embodiment of self-compassion. To start with, it’s enough to get better at noticing. When you notice, it opens the door to exploring different options. It opens the door to asking, “What is a different way of responding? What would self-compassion look like in that situation?”

    The greater your awareness, the greater your potential for positive change.

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