self compassion to ease fear, depression, worry, and anxiety - as well as improve relationships
There is no way to have genuine, consistent compassion for others if you don't have genuine, consistent compassion for yourself. Most of us have a very strong "inner critic". Especially if you were raised in a very critical, neglectful, or abusive family, your inner dialogue can be self condemning even around simple challenges. You may criticize yourself about your weight,your body, your career, your money, your house, or even your car. A strong inner critic will take apart anything and everything in your life. The running dialogue of the inner critic in your life can create tremendous anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. These feelings are often acted out as stagnation, laziness, lack of focus, addictions and self-sabotaging behaviors. Self-compassion has 3 main components, Mindfulness (replacing over identifying) , Common Humanity (replacing isolation), and Kindness (replacing self-judgment) . Here is a breakdown of the basic techniques of Self-Compassion:
1) IDENTIFY SOURCE OF SUFFERING AND WHERE YOU FEEL THE PAIN IN THE BODY MOST.
2) PLACE HAND ON PAIN – LIGHTLY RUB, say, “I’m suffering here”.
3) RECOGNIZE THAT OTHERS SUFFER FROM THIS SAME PAIN AND YOU’RE NOT ALONE IN IT.
4) DO INNER CHILD DIALOUGE
a. What are you feeling?
b. So you’re feeling…..
c. Its ok to feel this way, I accept and love you as you are. I won’t ever leave you, I can take care of you, etc.
d. Do you need anything? (fulfill the emotional or physical need – i.e. acceptance, love, a walk, food, etc.)
Common resistances to self-compassion:
Beliefs that Self compassion is weak, indulgent, victim like, I won’t get anything done if I’m not hard on myself.
Research is the opposite: Compassion requires courage and discipline, it is not indulgent it is proactive to move the pain through the system so I am not plagued by depression or anxiety and feel safe to move forward.
Archetypal figures around compassion:
Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Theresa, etc.
Biological effects of self abuse
When I am beating myself up, I assume the roles of victim and abuser. My brain lights up the centers that warn me I am in danger. The Amygdala gland discharges cortisol, the hormone that induces anxiety / fear response. I am more apt under this stress to feel paralyzed, and unable to move forward for fear of being berated (by myself ) again.
When I am going through the self compassion steps I am recognizing my own pain, using my hand to soothe and discharge Oxytocin, the soothing hormone, allowing my brain to process the pain and let it pass through. I am also more apt to feel safe enough to take the next right action.
For more on Self Compassion check out this video by leading researcher Kristin Neff: