Self-Compassion

Book heartValentine’s Day generally focuses on roses, cards and overpriced meals, concentrating on how much we love another or indeed how much they may love us, rather than how much we love ourselves.

According to this short clip from the School of Life on Love and Self-Love when it comes to relationships, we need to be able to love ourselves first or we will have a hard job accepting love from anyone else.

At today’s WDF Guernsey meeting – “How do I love thee? … Let me count the ways” – I asked the audience to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, how much they love themselves. (Truth is when asked a question like that we all know we should be answering 10). But even on a good day most of will actually be thinking maybe 7/10 and that’s if we’re feeling generous! When asked what would need to change to increase the scores, the answers can usually be summed up as  – I would need to behave more in line with my ideals for myself than I currently do. e.g. drink less, eat more greens, exercise more, work harder, get promoted, play with the kids more often, be kinder, study more, meditate regularly and so on ……. You see our love for ourselves is conditional, we wouldn’t withhold love in the same way from anyone else.

It might seem a bit contradictory for a coach to be saying this, but our cultural obsession with self-improvement, aiming for imaginary perfection in so many areas of our lives needs to stop! We simply can’t do it all, and when we try we fail and when we fail we often fall into self-loathing. Working to turn down the volume on our inner critics is a lot of what coaching is about, we can work directly with these inner messages, and we can also work to up the volume on our self-compassion.

Self-Compassion guru Kristin Neff breaks it down into three components – mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. Or put more simply …. giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.

In stark contrast to what most of us do when we are not living up to our own standards i.e. beat ourselves up!

If any of this is resonating with you, then there is a wealth of supportive guided mediations online which can help. But if you haven’t time right now to find a quiet place and listen you can take a short self-compassion break, running through Neff’s 3 components.

(Ideally this exercise is done with eyes closed and hands placed on the heart but I realise that’s not always possible in an open plan office!)
1. Acknowledge to yourself that you are struggling and allow those feelings (mindfulness)
2. Remind yourself that struggling is human (common humanity)
3. With kindness acknowledge that you too are human (self-kindness)

To explore the benefits to be had from self-compassion, Kristin Neff , Tara Brach and many others have produced a number of really supportive guided meditations, many of which are available free online.
Tara Brach https://www.tarabrach.com/
Kristin Neff http://self-compassion.org/
http://www.mindful.org/a-loving-kindness-meditation-to-boost-compassion/

I’ve been practising various forms of mindfulness for many years but regular morning cushion sitting evaded me until a couple of months ago. Then at last with the help of my iPad and these good ladies, I found a way to start my mornings by focussing on nurturing my own heart, which to my mind is the best Valentine’s gift I could possibly receive.

WDF “How do I love thee? … Let me count the ways” 14th February 2017 was kindly sponsored by Babbe who looked at the importance of Wills and other ways of protecting assets for our loved ones.