Compassion is the ability to recognize the suffering in another, and the desire to help or alleviate it. Self-Compassion is the ability – actually the willingness – to recognize our own suffering, and the desire to help.
When we think of compassion, we tend to think of an offering to another who is hurting or suffering in some way; but compassion is not just something we muster up and offer as a simple gesture. It is a quality that arises as we open our heart to another’s story or situation. Compassion is one of the heart practices and requires emotional presence, inner stability and strength, awareness and courage. To hold the space for another while they hurt is not easy. To weep for or with another is NOT a form of weakness, but rather requires a tremendous inner strength!
Self-Compassion is even more challenging than compassion for another. Opening the heart can feel risky and uncomfortable until we learn how to do it with great care. For many of us, we have been taught from a young age that focusing on our own emotions and needs is selfish or self-indulgent. Self-compassion is not wallowing in self-pity, or narcissistic behavior, but rather being present with ourselves, aware of our own emotional and physical states and needs, and open to offering ourselves the care we need. We do this for our loved ones, our children. Why wouldn’t we do this for ourselves?
Self-Compassion is essential for well-being! The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important human relationship we will have in our lifetime. Health and well-being spring forth from a loving environment, and yet we are not often taught how to love and respect ourselves. We are often kinder to others (even strangers!) than we are to ourselves. Our inner dialogue of constant criticism potentially places us at war with ourselves, and quite literally erodes our health and well-being! We create a never-ending loop of constantly looking for peace and happiness, all the while chastising ourselves with statements suggesting why we are not “enough” (good enough, smart enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, and on and on).
Self-Compassion is essential for health and well-being. And compassion in general is key for connection and healthy relationships.
To learn more about self-compassion, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org