If there’s only one book I could have all of my clients read, it would be Kristin Neff PhD’s Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.
Her book has had a deep impact on me and my professional practice. Since reading it several years ago, I’ve recommended Neff’s book several times a month to different clients. I also pull it off my bookshelf regularly and let it guide me back to the practice of Self Compassion. And I’ve mentioned it on my blog, podcast and eBook.
Self Compassion is an essential ingredient of having a healthy internal family system, but many people believe being kind to yourself is weakness.
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Neff’s book puts that idea to bed once and for all. She draws on extensive research to demonstrate how people who appreciate the pleasant aspects of themselves and their lives feel happier than those who don’t.
Why wouldn’t you want to feel happier? Self Compassion feels good when you do it and it gives positive returns in your future.
This book is an excellent guide towards being kinder to ourselves. You’ll actually feel inspired to practice the recommended exercises for cultivating your own Self Compassion.
How can you be more compassionate toward your Self?
Neff outlines the 3 steps for cultivating Self Compassion:
- Choose to be kind towards oneself and let go of being critical and judgmental
- Acknowledge we are human and to suffer is human thereby we are not alone in our suffering
- Be mindful in the present moment and extend kindness to ourselves as we suffer
As you read that, do you hear an inner voice dismissing it? That could be the sound of your inner critic, the same voice who never hesitates to tell us how we did something wrong and how stupid we are to have done it.
The way to defeat that inner critic is not to defeat it. It’s through the practice of Self Compassion that we can neutralize that negative voice inside of us.
As Neff so eloquently puts it, “You don’t want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up.”
Neff says we find “The Way Out” when we remember this inner critic means well in trying to keep us away from dangerous things such as humiliation and shame. So, love your inner critic for wanting to protect you. And balance it by growing your more compassionate side too.
An IFS Look at Neff’s Self Compassion
Neff so clearly explains how we can go extremely quickly from suppressing to exploding our emotions.
In IFS language we would say we have been “hijacked” by an extreme emotional part of ourselves. When this happens we are all that part.
Neff teaches us to step back into awareness, which means that in the moment you can step back and become aware you’re extremely angry. The difference is that instead of just feeling all that anger inside of us, we know we’re in it. It’s in this knowing place that we can breathe and feel some compassion for ourselves.
Neff explains that when you can focus on the fact that you are having these thoughts and feelings you no longer are lost in their story. Then we get more room to have clarity and perspective.
Sending Self Compassion to yourself in these hard times is the antidote to being hijacked. It lands that emotional plane.
Read Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind Now
This book is foundational for building a better life for yourself. It promotes loving kindness towards ourselves and as the research increasingly demonstrates treating our self with kindness bring all kinds of positive benefits. It is a win-win.
Neff bravely includes difficult stories from her personal life in this book. Although she is an expert on this topic, she isn’t afraid to reveal her own humanity through personal anecdotes from her own experiences and others.
Overall, I highly recommend Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. This book is for all people who’d like to tame their inner critic and cultivate self compassion to be better in themselves, better in their relationship and better parents.
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“Meagan reading” by Flickr user Christopher Cotrell is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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