What is Mindful Self-Compassion?
The practice of Mindful Self-Compassion may sound complex but it’s actually very simple. I think that you would agree that we all experience stress in our busy lives from our jobs, families, friendships, finances and those unforeseen stressors like illness, job loss and death. In addition, we live in a performance driven society which can add another layer of stress on top of everything that we have to deal with. We are very fortunate to have what we have but we just can’t avoid STRESS! I think that you would also agree that at times we can all be hard on ourselves by putting ourselves down, comparing ourselves to others in a negative way, sometimes even thinking that there is something wrong with us. At times we don’t even realize that we are doing it until we experience chronic anxiety, feel depressed or end up with health problems. The negative voice in our minds may be embedded in the fabric of our minds in a very unconscious way.
Mindful Self-Compassion can be an antidote to our stress and suffering. The practice includes three steps. First, we need to be Mindful of our struggles by noticing what’s happening in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. Just noticing and not judging the judging allows us to see what we are doing in a clear way. The second step involves recognizing that our suffering is Universal. We all suffer from stress and difficult emotions. It’s part of human nature. The third step is to bring kindness, gentleness and Compassion to our suffering. We do this process just as we would treat a friend who is having a difficult time. Compassion is not new to any of us and we are already doing it with ourselves with our positive self talk or the kind ways that we treat ourselves. So, Mindful Self-Compassion = Mindfulness + Universality + Compassion.
The practice can help us to reduce our inner critical voice, help us to manage strong emotions that can be present with suffering and it can help us to deal with others in a more compassionate way. It’s likely that if we are very critical of ourselves, we are probably easily annoyed with others. Mindful Self-Compassion gives us a way to be with our struggles that allows them to pass rather than fighting, denying or internalizing them. It is quite a relief from the same habitual patterns that don’t work. We encourage you to try the practice because it actually works!