The Journey to Self-Compassion

“Self-Compassion comes from recognizing that our imperfections are apart of being human” -Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

As we constantly struggle to maintain a strong and positive persona for those around us, we neglect the process in which we accept and heal from our deepest struggles. In my experience self-compassion is the fundamental key to this process. It is not only a social construct created to make us feel better, but a practice of “self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness”. Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading pioneer in the adaptation of self-compassion, also uses these three elements to identify our shortcomings and address the effects it has on our mood.

Self-compassion is as simple as being kind to yourself when it comes to your weaknesses, and not letting your mistakes define who you are as a person. In a job interview we are asked to speak to our strengths and weaknesses. When preparing for the interview the advice most given is to effectively turn your weaknesses into strengths’. If we are asked to think this way professionally, why should it be any different in how we view our personal self?  In realizing not everything can or will be controlled, we are able to use mindfulness to prioritize how we allow certain events to affect us. As we begin to identify our weaknesses it is natural to feel a form of anxiety and stress. Dr. Neff identifies this notion as “backdraft.” The overwhelming feeling of pain can occur when you open the doors to hell (so to speak), but once faced with your inner demons, you can start to take ownership of your emotions.

By turning our adverse experiences into positive ones, we must first practice self- compassion. Loving a person through the good and the bad is a vow we take when entering the sacred bonds of matrimony, but why is the act of loving yourself through your own personal highs and lows more difficult? Why shouldn’t the unconditional love you promise another person be that same love you desire for yourself?

Practicing Self-Compassion

“Turning feelings into words can help us process and overcome adversity.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Journaling has been proven to be an effective tool to clarify the overwhelming emotions many victims possess if they have faced adversity. Those who journal for about 15 minutes a day can begin to find comfort in their own words and begin to form empathy through their grieving/recovery process. Another form of written therapy would be to craft a letter to a friend as if they were going through the same process. Use specific words of comfort and provide moral support as if they were seeking compassion from you. In certain situations, we become our very own worst critics, however, if we envision someone else building the resiliency through a difficult time, we naturally find the means to support them. This letter is a reminder you deserve the very same understanding, kindness, and forgiveness you are willing to give your friend.

While writing is a form of self-reflection and expression, it is not the only option. Some people can find a sense of release when it comes to other forms of mindfulness practices such as art, dance, or music. Explore a mindfulness ritual that brings you joy and builds your self-confidence and allow yourself to share your journey to self-compassion with others.

Resources & References

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

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