Why Is Self-Compassion Important to You? (Part I)
One of the most valuable practices of Buddhist teaching is compassion, which usually means going beyond understanding others’ suffering and doing something to relieve that suffering. The essential element of compassion is self-compassion, which is generally ignored by people who practice compassion. I received some questions recently about how to be kind and compassionate to ourselves. For the next few weeks, I will discuss self-compassion-related thoughts and perspectives. Please send me your understanding of self-compassion for sharing with other readers.
What is self-compassion? According to a well-known professor and psychologist, Dr. Neff, self-compassion is about treating ourselves with care, kindness, and love without judgment, just like we would do to a best friend. It is time to treat oneself with kindness and care. For example, stop being critical of yourself if you fail to achieve a result you anticipated, and start telling yourself that it is all right because you worked hard and tried your best. We need to accept the general humanitarian fact that everyone has weaknesses and makes mistakes sometimes.
Self-compassion means accepting yourself as who you are without comparing with others or putting yourself down. You are not alone if you feel sad from discomfort, stress or suffer from hardship or challenges. Would you help your best friend who is in a challenging situation? What is your voice’s tone towards your friend seeking comfort from you? What do you say to your friend to show your care and affection to make that person feel better? You usually use a soft and warm tone to highlight your kindness and support to a suffering friend. It is time to do the same for yourself.
Self-compassion is the most powerful healing you can do for yourself under challenging times. Modern people are too busy to achieve professional or personal tasks and can forget to nurture themselves. Self-compassion involves six elements: comforting with acceptance, balancing with compassion, validating with humility, protecting with self-care, providing with kindness, and motivating with mindfulness. There are many things you can do to be compassionate to yourself. I would like to share with you two exercises for self-compassion.
1. Self-compassion affirmation (morning or night)
Say the following sentences to yourself silently or out loud:
· I accept myself as who I am without judgment
· I give myself compassion unconditionally
· I am strong and brave to face life’s challenges
· I forgive myself and others wholeheartedly and permanently
· I am fully present without worrying about the past or future
· I give myself kindness and care as I do to others
· It is all right to make mistakes because nobody is perfect
2. Touch your heart contemplation (anytime)
· Close your eyes and sit comfortably in a quiet place
· Put your left hand over your heart, then put your right hand over your left hand; Feel the heartbeats and the warmth of your hands.
· Say to yourself with an inner voice: suffering is a part of life; I am not alone; hardship is the standard way to learn and grow.
· Imagine your heart emits a bright light through your hands
· Receive the healing energy of light and love from the universe
· Feel the whole body lighting up and glowing
· Hold this soothing and comfortable feeling for five minutes
· Open your eyes with happiness and warmth
To Be Continued