60 ways to nurture

Self-compassion

Defined as “being kind and caring toward yourself1, it is emerging that self-compassion is an important component in helping anyone deal with difficult and stressful life events or situations.
There are three components to self-compassion. 2 They are;

  1. Self-kindness; that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.
  2. Recognition of our common humanity; this allows us to feel connected with others in the experiences of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our situation.
  3. Mindfulness; so that we hold our experiences in balanced awareness rather than ignoring or exaggerating our pain.

It has practical significance for anyone dealing with breast cancer as it is easy to be critical of oneself when going through such an upheaval, especially when you may be struggling with feelings of inadequacy, despair, anxiety, confusion and other forms of stress.

Mindful self-compassion helps you to respond with kindness and understanding as you learn to hold difficult emotions such as fear, anger and sadness.

It entails us to evoke goodwill towards ourselves, especially when we are suffering or struggling. It involves actively comforting ourselves just like we would to a friend who is struggling. 

Some suggestions of how you can be more self-compassionate are;

  • Use your hands to instill warmth and comfort into yourself:
    • Place a hand where you feel the pain most intensely, see if you can open up around it, hold it gently
    • Place your hands on your chest and stomach and breath gently just focusing on the breath, spend some time focusing on the warmth generated by your hands
    • Take time out to do something nice for yourself that you have never done before
  • Write five compassionate phrases on a card and read them each day to yourself
  • Write a compassionate letter to yourself just as a friend who is unconditionally loving, accepting, kind and compassionate would do
  • Instead of being critical towards yourself say something kind to yourself first
  • Use your senses to connect to the present when you are feeling critical towards yourself
    • What can you see?
    • What can you hear?
    • What can you touch?
    • What can you smell?
    • What can you taste?

Visit www.self-compassion.org for more on this subject.

1 Harris, R (ACT Made Simple) 
2 Neff, K (Self-compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind)