Self compassion is a hot word in the mental health world these days and for good reason! Mental health exercises are crucial to our mental health because an increase in self compassion leads to a decrease in fear, increase in connection, increase in self care, decrease in depression and much more. Self-compassion is conceptualized as containing 3 core components: mindfulness versus overidentification, common humanity versus isolation, and, self-kindness versus self-judgment when relating to painful experiences.
Let me give you an example using the all too familiar difficulty of parenting. If my son has just thrown a tantrum and I raised my voice or don’t know if I handled the situation right, it might be good to first acknowledge that yes, I’m feeling frustrated and unsure, and there’s probably some shame. And those feelings are uncomfortable. And I am allowed to make room for those feelings and not like them simultaneously. Next, I might validate and normalize this. Every parent I have ever met feels insecure about their parenting, wonders if they are doing the right thing, and struggles with hard moments like tantrums. Its no wonder I feel those things. Lastly, I might offer myself some kindness. I might simply say to myself “May I give myself Grace; may I accept my parenting exactly as it is; may I see my strengths.” If we get used to slowing down and talking to ourselves in this way, we are sure to foster self-compassion in even the most difficult circumstances. We also like to make sure that we know the purpose of these self compassion exercises is not to get rid of painful experiences, but to increase awareness and willingness to receive self compassion in the midst of that which, of course, increases psychological flexibility.