by Denette Mann
Mindful self-compassion is about self-kindness, not striving for self-improvement. Over time, human evolution gave us freedom from the fear that other animals might prey on us. Unfortunately, our evolution hasn’t created a less-stressful, less-fearful life; it’s created a more stressful, more fearful life! Now, we have ‘imaginary tigers’ in every car that gets too close, every person who looks at us in an uncomfortable way, bosses at work, commitments we struggle to meet, and other life stressors. Many of us, including myself, also inherited a mean, critical inner voice we carry around just to tell us that what we did or how we’ve behaved is bad or less than par.
I Lived with an Inner Critic
A few years ago, I looked for a better way to live, a way of being happier and less pulled down by the weight of my daily life. The change was essential for me to experience happiness. I did not want to live anymore with an inner critic, and instead handle hurt, scared, sad, or lonely feelings with a sense of kindness. My goal was to be mindful that I am human, and that means I am vulnerable and imperfect. I deserve forgiveness for the same reasons I choose to forgive others. I learned, with help from others and some serious effort, to practice self-kindness. This practice allows me to learn from my failures rather than berate myself, then move on more skillfully and effectively.
Life Can be Hard
Though life is difficult at times, I now realize I possess the skills to manage most emotional challenges, as is the case for most of us. We all have the capacity for mindfulness or moment-to-moment awareness. And we all can practice self-compassion, often described as having an open heart. Once we learn to incorporate these skills into our lives, however, we must acknowledge that our work is not, and may never be, complete. We must practice and strengthen these skills throughout life to handle new emotional challenges thrown our way. A moment of mindful self-compassion changes an experience altogether, and a series of these moments might change your entire life.
Are You Mindful and Self-Compassionate?
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you mindful or is your mind always full?
Do you ruminate about past mistakes or worry about the future? Studies show our minds wander during 50% of our waking hours. Unfocused minds look for danger, and tend to focus on the negative. In reality, we need to give our attention and gratitude to the present day. Practice mindfulness regularly to help you live and enjoy today and be present. Notice people and things going on around you.
How would you talk to a friend if she or he made a mistake…and how would you treat yourself if you made that same mistake?
According to research, between 75-77% of Americans treat others better than they treat themselves. Understand and practice self-compassion to change the daily inner conversations you have with yourself. This in turn helps you have a better relationship with both yourself and others.
As George Eliot once said, “It’s never too late to become the person you might have been.”
About the author: Denette Mann
Denette Mann is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor, Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor, National Certified Counselor, and Certified EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapist. She is often accompanied by her team of therapy dogs, a miniature poodle, ‘Bailey’, and a Maltipoo, ‘Shaq.’
A large part of Denette’s therapy work includes Interpersonal Neurobiology, Mindfulness, and Mindful Self-Compassion, Denette is the first teacher in Dallas-Ft. Worth to be certified by the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, co-founded by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Christopher Germer, Ph.D. Denette regularly speaks to groups on a variety of topics such as Attachment, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Trauma, Mindfulness, and Mindful Self-Compassion.
Below is a short video from Harriet who took our 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion course and explains how it impacted her life.