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The Art of Self-Compassion

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During trying times we make attempts to distract and mask what we are feeling. We live in a time, where feelings are categorized are good or bad. We repress the “bad”. Feelings are neither good or bad, they can be desirable or undesirable. However, emotional understanding is key in self-understanding, self-soothing, and healing.

When we are going through difficult moments we can rely on external coping skills. Although these can be a great tool (one of which I often advocate), I recognize that sometimes it is not enough. Other times, we turn to unhealthy habits that lead us to feeling worse. Today I would like to suggest practicing self-compassion.

First, what is compassion? Compassion is defined as the concern of the hurting in others. How seemingly easy it is to show compassion to another going through a difficult time (understandably so!) and yet we are intolerant to our own plight.

The next time you are feeling like you are hurt, pained, overwhelmed, (etc) may I suggest the following:

  1. Check in with your body. Be aware of how it feels and where you are holding that particular emotion. A quick body scan is a great exercise for this.
  2. Acknowledge nonjudgmental that emotion. As much as we dislike feeling “bad”, there are situations that warrant that emotion. It is OK to not feel 100% all of the time. Do not judge yourself for feeling sad, angered, betrayed, etc.
  3. Now that you know where you body houses that emotion, you have accepted what you feel in that moment: treat yourself as you would a friend going through a similar situation. Comfort yourself. If you would take a friend out to coffee, then do that for yourself. IF you would tell a friend to go nap. Then do that!
  4. Finally, take a deep breath and say good bye to that emotion. Find a ritual of some sort, I suggest writing and then ripping the paper. You can get dissolving paper , write you message and place the paper in a water bottle: watch the message disappear. Show yourself kindness.

This is self-care. This is self-love. Having a practice of self-compassion can be trans- formative. Rather than impatient and judgmental with yourself, in time, you will be more patience and understanding with yourself.

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