Self-compassion is more than being nice to ourselves, which for women is very good news because we tend to be our own harshest critics. We struggle with perfectionism, always finding the flaws in our bodies, our homes, our work, and our roles as daughters/mothers/wives/etc. We’re too busy caring for everyone else, so the idea of self-care feels like an additional burden if not an outright act against God. And then there’s the societal nonsense that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or ready enough. It’s a miracle to get through the week, let alone feel awesome about ourselves.
But self-compassion is more than a feel-good, happier way to live our lives. It’s absolutely critical to women’s liberation. Imagine a world where women loved themselves. If they thought they were amazing and brilliant and good people. These women would not only live better, they would take more risks, they would be less susceptible to criticism, and they would recover from failure more quickly. They would have what is called a “Self-Compassion Safety Net” that would give them confidence and resilience. And both of these are very important to changing the world.
In this week’s Zoom talk show, I’ll be sharing how to make a Self-Compassion Safety Net for yourself. We’ll start by reviewing the work of Dr. Kristin Neff who has identified three elements to self-compassion. Being kind to ourselves is one of them, but it’s not the only one, and it may help to enter into self-compassion with the other two elements first.
Elements of Self-Compassion
- Mindfulness vs. Over-identification – You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to practice mindfulness. Just noticing what we’re thinking and feeling is the first step, and that’s the only one you’ll need for self-compassion. When we’re mindful of our crazy thoughts and big feelings, we can use other tools to gain perspective and take a more balanced approach to our emotions rather than suppressing them or overreacting.
- Common Humanity vs. Isolation – You know that feeling when you’re spending time with your girlfriends lamenting your spouses/kids/job and you realize that it’s not just you? That everyone feels this way, too? That’s a basic version of common humanity, which is seeing our personal experiences as part of a much larger human experience. Not only is it fun, especially over a glass (or three) of wine, but it also helps us find patience and forgiveness for our shortcomings.
- Self-kindness vs. Self-judgement – Okay, at some point, you’re going to have to learn to be kind to yourself. The simplest way to do this, at least conceptually, is to treat yourself as you would treat a friend. It doesn’t have to be super-elaborate. Just taking a break when you’re tired or feeding your family frozen pizza for dinner works. And if that sounds like crazy-talk to you, I have a simple trick to get you there.
In the Season Finale of my talk show, we’ll walk through a powerful activity to bring self-compassion to a current challenge you’re facing. You’ll learn how to build a Self-Compassion Safety Net and identify one kind action that you can take for yourself.