laura's blog

Self-compassion

scribbled by laura on October 2, 2012

I started reading a book recently entitled Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. Self-compassion is a powerful concept, and it’s one I never considered because:

A.) I never heard of it, and
B.) It never came naturally to me.

The idea behind it is simple really: be kind and compassionate to yourself when confronted with personal failings. It’s often easy to have compassion for others, offering understanding and kindness during times of strife or when mistakes are made. Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we can mercilessly judge and criticize ourselves for our various shortcomings. This whole concept struck a chord with me because beating myself up DOES come naturally to me, as I think it does to many others. I never considered that I could be kind to myself. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. We are all a part of a shared human experience.

Self-compassion is NOT self-pity or self-indulgence. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. For cronic self-beater-uppers like me, I look at it as a way to retrain my brain to be more emotionally healthy.

I wanted to share a story from the book that resonated with me:

A Native American wisdom story tells of an old Cherokee who is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good–he is joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

For more information on self-compassion, visit http://www.self-compassion.org/.

12 Responses to “Self-compassion”

  • This is so coincidental. I am reading about this concept in Buddhism. A very powerful concept, indeed. Another was of thinking about it lovingkindness toward oneself. We are so harsh, judgmental, negative and self-deprecating sometimes. If we could give ourselves a break, be gentle with ourselves, our whole world would open up, rather than cutting ourselves off at every pass.

    If you are enjoying this topic, I cannot recommend this book highly enough: http://www.amazon.com/When-Things-Fall-Apart-Difficult/dp/1570623449

    by

    Lorraine Daley

    on

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012
  • Thanks for the info, Lorraine!

    by

    laura

    on

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012
  • When I apply these ideas, I feel confident, strong, compassionate, and peaceful in my interactions. I hope they can do the same for you.

    by

    James O. Smith

    on

    Saturday, May 25, 2013
  • Observing this person’s communication style with others will encourage you to witness the behavior from an objective point of view. This is one way to understand that the lying behavior is not to be taken personally and understand your personal boundaries. What is your core value with lying? Some people have a zero tolerance, some can find compassion , and others may be in denial from looking “under the rug.” Let’s focus on the response of compassion because this way propels into having a wider range of skills when it comes to understanding others.

    by

    Dana Rose

    on

    Thursday, July 4, 2013
  • Many aspects of ourselves and the circumstances of our lives are not of our choosing, but instead stem from innumerable factors (genetic and/or environmental) that we have little control over. By recognizing our essential interdependence, therefore, failings and life difficulties do not have to be taken so personally, but can be acknowledged with non-judgmental compassion and understanding.

    by

    Stacie U. Crosby

    on

    Saturday, July 6, 2013
  • Many aspects of ourselves and the circumstances of our lives are not of our choosing, but instead stem from innumerable factors (genetic and/or environmental) that we have little control over. By recognizing our essential interdependence, therefore, failings and life difficulties do not have to be taken so personally, but can be acknowledged with non-judgmental compassion and understanding.

    by

    Myron Elliott

    on

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013
  • Compliance needs to be distinguished from biblical compassion. In Hosea 6:6 and Matthew 9:13 God desires from us compassion, and not sacrifice. Compassion comes from the inside. We decide to give of ourselves to others. In contrast to that compliance is only on the outside. Compliants take on too many responsibilities and accept too many bad things – not by choice, but because they are afraid.

    by

    Vincent Bell

    on

    Thursday, July 11, 2013
  • We are often asked to be compassionate to others. My experience is that when we have compassion towards ourselves, we are able to be more compassionate to others; more than we imagined.

    by

    Get Smart

    on

    Monday, August 26, 2013
  • When you give yourself unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, you’re then able to give that to others.

    by

    Aubrey A. Bowman

    on

    Thursday, October 24, 2013
  • When you give yourself unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, you’re then able to give that to others.

    by

    Gold Price

    on

    Monday, January 20, 2014
  • Think of all the generous, kind people you know who constantly give compassion and care to others, yet continually beat themselves up. Most of us are quite practiced at being supportive and giving to others, especially those of us who find ourselves in caregiver roles. Whether we have a special needs child, a parent with Alzheimer’s, an ill partner, or are in a caregiving profession such as being a nurse, therapist, or teacher, we know to give support, comfort and compassion to the people who need us. But how many of us offer that same level of compassion and care to ourselves?

    by

    Marguerite Maynard

    on

    Saturday, February 15, 2014
  • I love what you’ve posted here. I can definitely relate. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life and I feel like just recently I have been able to begin to integrate a more patient, gentle and kind way of relating to myself. It’s important to maintain this relationship with ourselves because it is the one relationship that will last for our entire lives up until the very end. It makes sense to put some work into treating yourself well when you think about it that way. This Valentine’s Day I took myself out to brunch and wrote myself a love letter. It was great and I think I will make it an annual tradition. It’s good to treat yourself like you would a dear friend and recognize your growth through struggles and your innate beauty. The Native American story is one I heard several years ago and I think of it often. I definitely grew up feeding the wrong wolf, but I am learning how to change that pattern. It’s easier said than done, but it’s progress not perfection and I can recognize that I have already come a long way. By the way I think your website is really great. The design is beautiful and easy to navigate and your blog posts that I have read are all really awesome. Keep sharing your gifts and your thoughts. It has an impact.

    by

    Bekah Barnett

    on

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016
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