My close friends, family members, colleagues and clients are keenly aware of my desire to express the benefits of self-compassion. My “passion” for self-compassion developed and continued to flourish during my journey to becoming a therapist, and in the process allowed me to appreciate myself in a way that I never thought possible, during a time when I needed it most. You see, self-compassion is there for you when you are most vulnerable. And believe me, my time as a Masters candidate, transitioning to become therapist was new territory that left me feeling very exposed, unsure of myself and less than confident at times.
With diligent, daily self-compassion practice I was able to gain the awareness, inner strength and self-kindness needed to help me through a stressful, vulnerable time. In tandem and since, I have witnessed many of my clients – from children, to adolescents, to adults – reap the benefits of self-compassion practice. For this reason, and the growing evidence supporting self-compassion focused therapy, I incorporate self-compassion strategies in my psychotherapy practice with the majority of my clients.
What exactly is self-compassion?
Kristin Neff, researcher and self-proclaimed self-compassion “evangelist”, has come up with three distinct components that are present during the practice of self-compassion. These include: mindful awareness – being able to recognize and be present in the moment without judgement – not over identifying with experiences in the past or anticipating situations in the future; self-kindness – giving ourselves the kindness that we would give to a friend or a loved one; and recognizing that we all struggle from time to time which allows us to develop a sense a common humanity, and the importance of celebrating that, rather than the common alternative which is to compare ourselves to others in order to measure our own self-worth. Once we learn how to incorporate these three valuable practices in our lives, we can let go of the self-critism; stop overidentifying or fixating on our problems; and learn to recognize similar pain in others, allowing us to break free of the isolation we commonly turn to during times of difficulty, stress or struggle.