If we treated our friends and family like we treat ourselves,
we would have no friends or family.
I just finished reading the article The Healing Power of Self-Compassion by Diane Dreher. She had interviewed Kristen Neff PhD and author of the book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.
In the article, Kristen Neff defines three components of self-compassion. They are mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness to yourself.
Mindfulness is paying attention to what you are thinking and feeling. It is bringing yourself back to the present moment, away from the past and future, and appreciating where you are in the moment. This can be done using your senses. What do you see, feel, hear, smell and, depending on the moment, taste? Appreciate, be grateful, say thank you. The practice of mindfulness is learning the skill to catch what you are thinking, and defining how those thoughts make you feel. A comment that came up the other day at lunch with Lydia and Deb is the mind is a terrible thing to waste! Begin to pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling. If you are saying mean things about yourself… Stop it! Move your thinking onto something you like… puppies, kittens, a beautiful summer day, a grandchild, sing the song These are a Few of my Favorite Things… say a prayer, my favorite from Clarissa Pinkola Estes – I love you, I love you, I love you ~ Thank you, thank you, thank you ~ Help me! Help me! Help me! Listen for the help, which will come.
Common Humanity is treating yourself as a human being deserving of compassion. Put the stick away and stop beating up on yourself. We all make mistakes. Practice learning to forgive yourself – and others for that matter. Be kind to yourself. The best way to do this is to pretend your best friend is going through that which you are going through. Would you call her an idiot? Would you kick her while she was down? What would you say to her? Turn those words on yourself. Allow a little tenderness to come from you, to you.
Kindness to Yourself is done by actively soothing yourself (Kristen Neff). I spend a lot of my day with premenstrual, perimenopausal, and menopausal women. Thus, there is a lot of discussion about the normalcy of the irritability that comes with hormonal swings or the clear vision which comes when menopause has occurred. Yesterday, I had a lovely talk with a woman about this. She said, What I have learned is I have to stop what I am doing and ask myself, ‘what do I need right now?’ Not in a superficial way but deeply, what is it I need?” I agreed wholeheartedly. I have defined this as the child within. It is actively soothing this child. Until you do, you will pay, as will those around you.
Judith Duerk in I Sit Listening to the Wind writes a vision of her inner-self:
Scrawny and malnourished…
her face covered with ashes… clothing torn by thorns.
‘I am the neglected and crazy part of you… the holy part inside, which you so often deny… bustling between kitchen and studio, cheerful and productive.
Don’t you see I am dying? When will you recognize me as the most precious part of yourself?
When will you grant me sovereignty?’
Sovereignty is the right and ability to govern one’s actions; to make choices and
take responsibility for those choices; to choose for oneself.
How often do you treat yourself using the first list of words? How often do you treat yourself using the second list of words? Consider the quote above. Why do we typically treat others using the first list and ourselves with the second? Let’s begin this year by being a little more compassionate to ourselves and, “Do unto ourselves as we do unto another.”
Begin to pay attention to the thoughts in your head and the way they make you feel. Stop beating yourself up and start treating yourself as a human being. Take time to soothe the child, the woman within yourself, not with food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or shopping, but with something meaningful. Do something that fills your senses with joy – read a book, watch a movie, create (knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, jewelry making), have some fun, rest.
- Why is it we tend to be so mean to ourselves? Why do we expect perfection from ourselves but not from others?
- Why do we not recognize ourselves as precious human beings, worthy of love and respect from ourselves?
- How do I begin taking the time to ask and listen for what the woman/child inside needs and then follow through?
Til next time ~ Mary
Mary’s Musings are a random thought. It may be a quote, a question, an idea, or something happening in the world. Enjoy a moment to yourself and contemplate this thought. Ask yourself how it feels and where it leads. Breathe . . . and see where her musings take you.