Before we can ascertain what Self-compassion is, it is important to understand what it entails to be compassionate to others.
Imagine for a minute what it feels like to be “compassionate” towards someone. The first step is to notice that someone is suffering in some area of his or her life. If you choose to ignore the mother in line at the grocery store with a cart full of food, 3 screaming toddlers and a declined credit card you cannot feel compassion towards them.
The next stage of compassion is to be emotionally moved by someone’s circumstances. This leads to a more caring approach, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Ultimately, you become the embodiment of the definition of compassion, which is to “suffer with”
Being compassionate to others connotes a sense of understanding and kindness. We all make mistakes and we all fail. True compassion can turn it into a shared human experience, from which all parties involved can benefit greatly.
Self-compassion involves the same principles except applying them to You. Whether you are enduring a difficult time at work or at home, whether you have failed at something or whether you have just developed a disliking for a specific idiosyncrasy, it is important to take the same approach with yourself as you do with others.
It has been said on many occasions that as human being’s, we are far more adept at helping other’s than we are ourselves. What benefit is there to helping other people through problems that does not apply to helping ones self?
We gain happiness from helping other’s because;
It boosts our self esteem
It develops stronger friendships
We feel more empowered
It helps us find inner peace
It's a positive karma experience (for those who believe in karma)
We believe in paying It forward
Which one of those cannot be applied to helping your self in times of need? If we work at overcoming our own adversity, our self-esteem will thank us for it. The same goes for friends, who will benefit from a better version of you. It’s okay to look after number one first, and the beauty of it is if we do that properly, then the compassion we demonstrate to others will come from a more empathetic place, rather than one of sympathy. The reward of a true understanding of self-compassion will be seen in those compassionate moments where the affected individual/s have a much better experience with a difficult part of their life thanks to You.
How do I become more Self-compassionate?
Think of a huge Iceberg in the arctic sea. 10% of that iceberg is visible from above the water, and this represents your conscious state of mind. Everything that you hear, see and believe about yourself is here. It is visible to others too. The other 90% of the iceberg, the unseen, represents the subconscious state of mind. This is all the stuff you've ever said about yourself but chose not to store it in your conscious mind. Any criticism or negative comment you’ve ever said about yourself or had said to you, they all reside here. So if 90% of what makes up our mind is unseen but still has a huge effect on the way we perceive ourselves/others, wouldn't it make sense to ensure that our subconscious is filled with more positivity? By affirming positively, and recognizing that our brains cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined, we are able to filter the other 90% so that in times of need for self-compassion, we are much better prepared to be warmer towards our self, rather than heading down a path of self criticism.
What’s more, research has shown that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health than those who lack self-compassion. It is positively associated with life satisfaction, happiness and wisdom. These are all traits that if we have, will benefit those around us. So the irony of it all is that by completely focusing on ourselves, we are actually doing everyone else a favour.