Self-compassion is challenging for many of us. We often find it easier to be kind and forgiving towards others for their mistakes, or to be moved to help others in need, but struggle with practicing gentle friendliness towards ourselves.
Some people believe that being harshly critical of their shortcomings and inadequacies keeps them disciplined or motivated. Self-compassion is about accepting that we aren’t perfect, and that like all human beings, we struggle with difficulties. Dr. Kristin Neff suggests that personal changes like wanting to be healthy or happy should be motivated by the mindset of caring for oneself, and not from the belief of being unworthy or in wanting to be perfect. These beliefs cause us to suffer.
The Buddha talked about the 2 arrows. The first arrow is the actual event that causes pain or distress. The second arrow is the rumination or emotional reaction i.e. judgments, denials, blaming -- in short the stories we tell about the experience, which increases our suffering. The first arrow has happened, but the second is avoidable.
The way to avoid the second arrow is through contemplating our experiences and practicing self-compassion.
3 Step Self Compassion Meditation (Dr. Kristin Neff)
Each line of affirmation offers three different wording options. Use the one that feels most comfortable for you.
Suffering is part of life/Everyone feels this way sometimes/This is part of being human,
May I be kind to myself in this moment/May I love and support myself right now/May I accept myself as I am,
May I give myself the compassion I need/ May I remember that I’m worthy of compassion/May I give myself the same compassion I would give to a friend.
The wording is designed to bring mindful awareness to the hurt we are currently experiencing. It reminds us of our shared suffering and thereby alleviates our isolation and stress. In the midst of the pain, we are gently reminded to practice self-kindness. And we consciously set the intention to behave in a kind way towards ourselves.
Memorize the lines that feel most soothing to you. Practice even when you aren’t in distress. That way, when you notice you are judging or beating yourself up, these words will easily come to mind.
May you be filled with self-kindness.