In a recent article in Well, a health blog on The New York Times website, Tara Parker-Pope writes that “research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.”
Article is well worth the read! May I suggest you not just browse through it, but really try to understand it with an open mind and heart and see where and how you might need to apply this in your own life.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the researchers Dr. Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin: “[people] believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.’”
If you suffer from the detrimental effects of self-criticism practice being more compassionate towards yourself. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or bombarding ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassion also means holding our difficulties in mindful awareness and feeling connected to others while we suffer.
For various reasons (learnt responses and cultural norms) we have learnt to have compassion for others without realizing our unique ability as human beings to comfort ourselves. Alex Lickerman, MD in his blog “How to Comfort Yourself” describes what we know and describe as ‘self’ as being made up of a smaller self and a larger self: “The smaller self sometimes refers to the small-minded ego whose only concerns are selfish and at other times to the seemingly endless capacity we all have to believe wholeheartedly the various delusions that populate our thinking. The larger self, in contrast, is considered to be our best self, our most selfless self—our enlightened self.” He believes that our larger self is capable of giving the smaller self, compassion!
Remember that the art of self-compassion is a learnt response, which through conscious practice will overtime become your only response.
How have you met your needs for self-compassion today? Why not practice directing some of that compassion which comes so naturally to us to our own selves?