- People who are high in self-compassion treat themselves with kindness and concern when they experience negative events. Instead of judging themselves or blaming themselves for something in some way they are supportive of themselves. All of us have an inner critic, an inner voice that tells us we could have done something better or should have done it differently. For some of us that inner critic really affects our well-being. I see this so much in the clinic. People set such high standards for themselves, we are all supposed to be so good at so many things. This is particularly with people who are perfectionists or who set unrelenting standards for themselves.
- When we listen to our inner critic and are hard on ourselves we trigger the fear part of the brain, the Amygdala, this then floods us with adrenaline and even cortisol and increases our anxiety. When we are compassionate with ourselves we release oxytocin, this increases feelings of trust, calm and safety. We can change our chemistry by how compassionate we are with ourselves.
- During a time like this when life is very challenging learning to cultivate and listen to an inner nurturer, a voice that says, ‘you did that well’, ‘you are good at this’ ‘ok this isn’t perfect but you are completely on track’ is really important.
- The key to growing any psychological resource is to have repeated experiences of it. These can then turn into lasting changes in neural structure and function. Practising self-compassion allows us to access positive emotions and well-being more easily
- Brene Browne, the American writer says that when she is trying to achieve something she invites her inner critic to take a seat , she tells it that it is very welcome to be there but that she won’t be listening to it.
- A challenge during this time is to practise self-compassion. The exercise is to use The Self-Compassion Pause. We can use this as soon as we are experiencing some form of suffering, stress, self-shaming, discomfort, self-dislike. Start building this in as a habit in our daily lives.
The Self-compassion Pause
Use this as soon as you encounter a difficult moment in your day. You may be experiencing some form of stress, suffering, self-shaming, discomfort or self-dislike. Pause for a moment and focus on your breathing. Next, place your hands on your body and say something soothing just as you would soothe a friend – You might want to have something very specific that you say to yourself “I accept myself as I am” or “May I forgive myself for this mistake just as I would forgive others.” Whatever is nurturing for you. This is especially important at this time.