February is the month to get started planting your seeds of Self Compassion. Turning care and kindness inward to yourself in times of trouble in your life.
- Because it will make you feel better.
- When you feel better you can relax and see the bigger picture.
- When you see the bigger picture you often see possibilities for yourself that you could not see when you were frozen in the criticism from your inner bully.
What is Self Love or Self Compassion? Well it is NOT Self pity. Here is a good definition of compassion and Self compassion.
Compassion can literally mean to suffer together. It is the experience humans can have when listening to others or to yourself. A bond is created and in this emotional space the pain is felt together. There is some positive energy felt which relieves this suffering.
Self Compassion is suffering together with your Self and not feeling alone.
Self Compassion has scientifically proven benefits
There is hard science about how Self Compassion is good for you. Just because you weren’t taught it or hadn’t really considered it doesn’t mean it isn’t right for you. Science has taught us that much.
What it suggests is that people who are Self compassionate:
- Tend to experience fewer negative emotions overall
- Have greater emotional intelligence (meaning they are better able to maintain emotional balance in the face of difficult circumstances)
- Have a lower level of the stress hormone cortisol because they are more Self compassionate than self critical
Let’s start that today. Not at the end of your life! Let’s turn up your attention and intention with Self Compassion.
Getting started with Self Compassion
Regular readers of my blog (hi there!) know I’m a huge fan of Kristin Neff Ph.D.’s thoughts and teachings on Self Compassion. When it is difficult to speak kindly to yourself in your mind, her mantra is helpful. A mantra is a memorized saying that you can repeat to yourself until you feel calmer. It has three parts:
- Notice you are suffering.
- Recognized that you are not alone and this IS a human experience.
- Send some kindness inward.
You can write your own to fit you but here is the one Kristen Neff suggests to get you started.
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is a part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the compassion I need.
The Loving Kindness Mantra of Self Compassion
Sharon Salzberg the Buddhist teacher who popularized this practice here in the West also authored the book: Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. She says the four phrases of metta or sending loving kindness to yourself are:
May I be happy.
May I be at peace.
May I live with ease.
May I be free from suffering.
Some people have so much emotional pain doing this creates negative inner dialogue. Remember this is a part of you too. Step back from the inner “fight” and see if you can use your own simple mantra that is kind caring and nurturing that fits you better. Starts with whatever works now. It can be changed later.
A friend used to say, “My heart is full of lovingkindness; I am happy, I am healthy, I am well” whenever she was panicking.
Are you a friend to yourself, or foe?
I’ve talked before about the inner critic who can hold us back. As always, you have the choice: to be a friend or foe to yourself.
This is the month to start practicing being your own best friend every day until it sticks. We need both the constructive criticism and the empathy and understanding in our inner world.
The other day I got an email from myself that I wrote a month ago. I wrote it to me as if I was a good friend who knew me well. Crazy as it might sound I felt so happy reading my words as if they came from someone wise and knew me. I had forgotten all about that I signed up for Slow mail it was a pleasant surprise. (Not sure what I’m talking about? You must not have signed up for my email newsletter…you can fix that right here).
Send yourself some love this Valentine’s day. Write yourself a letter and email to arrive on February 14th.
- What do you like about yourself?
- What do you know you would be good at doing and just need some encouragement to do it? Send that encouragement.
- Remind yourself something fun you would like to do be or say and write that to yourself.
It is lovely to have such a good and wise friend. One who has known you your entire life and knows you well send you an email of love encouragement and maybe even some compassion.
Have you gotten your Self Compassion check up yet?
First I recommend taking Neff’s online Self-Compassion test. And then take a listen to this week’s podcast, which is almost like taking my bootcamp for doing Self compassion.
“Limestone pavement @ Hike to Tête du Parmelan & Grotte de l’Enfer” by Flickr user Guilhem Vellut is licensed under CC BY 2.0.