Identifying & Implementing Self-Compassion

Self-compassion. You would be forgiven if you drew a blank as to when you last demonstrated the act of self-compassion. Whilst showing compassion towards others comes easily to many of us, compassion towards ourselves is another story. Even if you were asked to begin implementing such a tool in your life you may find yourself pondering what self-compassion even looks like. Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Some say the experience of compassion can be broken into three stages: acknowledgment, connection, and understanding. Having a better understanding of these three stages can assist you in partaking in the act of self-compassion more often, and in turn improve your overall wellbeing, which is what we are all about at the Ohture.

So first, to have the ability to feel compassion for other people you need to be able to acknowledge and register that they are suffering, right?. Well, the same applies to yourself. You need to be able to acknowledge when you too are suffering. Now suffering can be anything to many people. It can be anything from losing someone close to you, experiencing financial hardship, poor mental health or having no purpose in life. Regardless of what suffering is for you you need to be able to recognise it within yourself at the time it is occurring. How do we do this? This can be achieved simply by tuning into yourself. Give yourself the time and attention you need in order to hear what is happening for you at that moment. Some of us are so busy in life that we barely have time to ourselves, let alone the time to sit with ourselves and listen to what is going on in our minds. So ensure that at some point through your day, once or twice, you allow yourself that pause in life and turn your attention inward.

Secondly, compassion involves connecting with the person who we recognise is suffering. It involves feeling moved by them and responding to their pain. When this occurs, you will usually feel the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. The same can be applied to yourself. Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion involves being kind and understanding towards yourself when confronted with personal failings. You are merely applying the same thoughts, emotions and actions that you would apply to others unto yourself.

And finally, the last stage, which is understanding. When you feel compassion for another person you understand that there's a shared human experience happening and this, in turn, creates connection. To recognise another’s suffering is to realise that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of being human, that there is no individual on this earth who has not or will not experience some sort of suffering. That being said, it's important to understand that at some point you will experience some sort of suffering and this is where self-compassion needs to be practised. Self-compassion involves positively turning your attention towards yourself during difficult times and showing an attitude of kindness, understanding and honouring and accepting your humanness. Being human is about being imperfect, making mistakes, choices and so forth. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, you will experience loss, you will make mistakes, discover your limitations, fall short of your ideals, fail to achieve what you set out to and experience rejection. However, this is a reality shared by all of us at different points in our life. Hey, we may even experience it more than once. But the more you open yourself to this reality instead of fighting it, the more acts of self-compassion will be able to occur.

So the next time you find yourself judging your own thoughts, emotions and actions, remember the three stages of self-compassion: acknowledge, connect, and understand.

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