Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Let’s talk about C O M P A S S I O N - more specifically, SELF Compassion.
Like most everything in life - you have control over yourself and yourself only. So logically, you will have to practice SELF-compassion to a degree to be able to truly exercise compassion for others.
You see, you can FEEL compassion for others, but what does one do with that compassion for others if one has not truly experienced their own compassion first-hand?
How does one even know the ways in which to help alleviate the suffering of others if they’ve never experienced their own compassion?!
SURE, you may have experienced others' compassion towards you, and don’t get me wrong, that is a powerful thing.
That said, there would indeed be a gap if you were to try and transfer that compassion onto another without stopping and experiencing it yourself.
For example, if you have compassion for another and in an attempt to alleviate their suffering you offer some sort of advice.
However, if you KNOW what has worked for you in relieving your own suffering through self-compassion, then you can SHARE this truth.
You will then be coming from a place of truth and evidence.
Example: You can say “while I can’t assume to understand all the experiences and feelings that have led to your suffering, I can share what has worked for me.”
This way, you are neither taking on the responsibility for anothers sufferings nor are you shooting in the dark. Having been through a similar experiences you are simply sharing your truth.
"As water reflecting the face is to the face, so a man's heart is to his fellow man.” - King Solomon
. . . When we share from beliefs stemming unequivocally from inside ourselves we are then sharing from a place of Authenticity.
STEPS TO SELF-COMPASSION
According to merriam-webster compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
As I like to to explain, to ‘hold space’ for yourself is to stop and experience what's coming up within without judgment.
Self-compassion thus is holding space for yourself by experiencing your own pain fully and with compassion.
My love, you did not ask for this suffering, chances are you are simply living through a conditioned response. So how do we practice this concept?
Tool 1- IDENTIFY Your Own Suffering.
This can come up multiple times throughout the day - most obvious as something physical as a stubbed toe.
Less outwardly obvious (especially if we have conditioned ourselves to ignore this response and ‘power-through’) is the response of emotional suffering.
. . . The feeling can be triggered from anything. Perhaps a song that reminds you of an ex and the sense of loss that follows!
. . . It can be in the form of a pang of the unworthiness you feel when you see someone have something you desire...
Both of these feelings are coming from a place of pain and it’s time we acknowledged that.
While it’s no fun to admit these feelings to ourselves, once we begin the practice of acknowledging and identifying these feelings of pain, we will open up a powerful door to healing. The prefaces to an honesty with ourselves.
Further, we are rewiring our minds so that the next time we are triggered, we are more likely to go for that newly familiar feeling of compassion rather than that old shame response.
The brain now has experienced and thus knows that this response is now an option, allowing us to experience these feelings in ernest. This is the transformation a shameful thought-cycle to one of self-love.
It's in your power to reinforce the notion that you are worthy of love and compassion.
Tool 2- Hold Space For Yourself
Moving from a place of berating ourselves to self-compassion comes from shifting our internal dialogue.
When pain comes up there are numerous tools we can use to practice self-compassion. I have found #innerchild work to be especially powerful.
First step is always the first tool - PAUSE and identify what's coming up. Once you have done this...
A) Take a moment and picture someone who loves you unconditionally. Really connect with their energy and thei rpresence.
This can be in the form of a grandparent who has passed, someone in your life currently, or even an ancestor you never met.
Think of how they would feel if they saw you suffering right now.
Truly feel their warm hug, the look in their eyes, or just their presence around you, protecting you.
Now feel that in your body and spirit - breath it in - a deep breath into your belly and out your heart. Hold that for as long as possible.
OR. . .
B) Picture an innocent child who doesn't know better and is upset and hurt.
Picture yourself as that child. . . Picture yourself now being there for yourself then.
Have compassion for little you. . . Give her a hug in your mind.
C) Take it a step further… Picture yourself as you were as a helpless baby. One who is truly dependent on the love and care of their caretakers. True vulnerability.
Picture your parents, whether they did show up when you needed them at the time or not. Picture them showing up for that helpless and vulnerable baby now.
What would that look like? Feel like? Picture it, feel it, embody it.
Tool 3- Solidify The Experience
In real time if you can, or if not later when you have alone time, take out your phone and jot down what came up. Free write your experience.
What would you imagine this loved one would say? How does thinking about them make you feel?
Try and tap into these feelings. Often they are the opposite of the experience you felt when you were in pain. Some examples include a feeling of Safety, Love, and Warmth.
When we genuinely understand and empathize with our own suffering we shift the internal narrative.
At this point we can stop blaming ourselves, rather we can experience the feelings without judgment. We show up in earnest and we relieve the suffering of ourselves. . .
Self-Compassion Leads To Connection
Trying to have compassion for another without having it for yourself is like trying to draw water from a stone...
So when we think of compassion let's start with ourselves. . . so that we can then spread that inner feeling with the rest of the world.
We are humans having a human experience and that in itself is reason for you to deserve your own love, attention, empathy and compassion.
Hold this space for yourself dear one. If for no other reason then you will be able to hold the space for others. This is what makes the world go round.
Want to learn more about self-compassion?