Dr. Kristin Neff explains the practice of self-compassion is simply the same practice of compassion toward others. The experience of compassion for others is two fold, she explains. Compassion helps us to identify suffering or seek understanding of another’s suffering. Compassion also helps us to open our hearts to the pain of that suffering. Wanting to reach out in kindness to support another who is suffering is the core of compassion.
Yet, we are not quick to act compassionate toward ourselves. We practice mindfulness for the world around us so as not to ignore or avoid anything uncomfortable. Quick to hide from what we find to be uncomfortable about ourselves, we create judgment that we are not worth our own compassion. In fact, we are often accompanied by a negative, hurtful, condescending, critical inner narrative. Dr. Neff writes, “self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain…you stop to tell yourself ‘this is really difficult right now,’ how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”
Practicing self-compassion is a combination of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral changes. First, we have to notice the way we think about ourselves in a way that doesn’t exacerbate self-judgment. Second, we have to take gentle action to reverse or reframe those thought patterns.
Do Unto Yourself As You Would Do Unto Others
One way to practice self-compassion is to put the things you say to yourself in a different perspective. Since you are so compassionate toward others ask yourself, is this how I would treat a friend, family member, or other loved one if they were suffering? The answer will likely be no. In school we are taught to treat others the way we want to be treated. To peacefully change the internal critical voice, we have to treat ourselves the way we want to (or do) treat other people.
Two friends in recovery are standing having a conversation. One friend starts judging and criticizing themselves. The other friend says, “Hey! That’s my friend you’re talking to and I don’t like it when people treat my friends that way.” Convinced of our deservedness to be treated badly by ourselves, we don’t see just how mean we are being. Take time to notice how your self-sentiments feel. If you feel you are being bullied acknowledge that without judgment and decide to change it. Try to reframe your negative statements into positive ones by writing down the negative thoughts you notice as soon as you notice them. Then write down the positive alternative.
Refuge Recovery Centers incorporates mindfulness based practices founded through Buddhist philosophy into a individualized treatment program. Humbly offering a spiritual path for treating the relentless cycle of attachment to addiction, Refuge provides multiple levels of treatment from detox to transitional living. Call or text us today for more information 323-207-0276.