So far in this series on ‘Self-care’ we have learned that doing effective self-care starts with developing a genuine understanding of the ‘self’. It means taking time and giving our self the space to do self-reflection and genuinely understand the influences that have helped to form our self-concept, and then to challenge and discern ‘who I am’. Sadly, one of the barriers to doing genuine self-work is our own ‘self’.
In this article I will be looking at how being kind to our ‘self’, having ‘self-compassion’, can lead to more healthy and effective self-care.
For most of us, the word compassion evokes qualities such as: being kind, merciful, tender, benevolent, understanding, empathic, sympathetic. (Neff, 2015). These are usually qualities we hope to demonstrate to others and/or have them demonstrate toward us. However, how many of us have self-compassion?
Let’s debunk the myth:
- Self-compassion is not self-pity, it is not weakness or narcissistic, it is not selfish, it will not make me complacent (Neff, 2015).
- Self -compassion is not superficial, such as simply trying to be nicer to myself or by telling myself that I am not so bad after all.
- These are short term solutions that will not lead to genuine change.
Self-compassion is healthy, and it goes deep!
According to Kristin Neff (2015):
There’s now an impressive and growing body of research demonstrating that relating to ourselves in a kind, friendly manner is essential for emotional wellbeing. Not only does it help us avoid the inevitable consequences of harsh self-judgement….it also engenders a happier and more hopeful approach to life.
Richard Schwartz (n.d.) states that understanding the inner parts of the ‘self’ ‘the good, the bad, the ugly, the confused, the frightened, the abandoned – in order to make friends with those parts on the deepest level’ will lead to genuine self-compassion. Neff (2015) speaks of this as ‘embracing the experiencer (i.e., ourselves) with warmth and tenderness when our experience is painful.’
Effective Self Care is:
Understanding the self and being self-compassionate
- When was the last time you gave yourself the gift of self-compassion?
- How did you do self-compassion?
- What do you need to do/change in yourself to be self-compassionate?
Neff, K. 30 Sept 2015 The Five Myths of Self-Compassion. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_five_myths_of_self_compassion
Schwartz, R. Using Internal Family Systems to Reduce Self-Criticism. Psychotherapy Networker Retrieved from https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/634/using-internal-family-systems-to-reduce-self-criticism