Mindful self-compassion is about self-kindness, not striving for self-improvement.
Over time human evolution has given us freedom from the fear of being preyed upon by other animals. 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 with us just to tell us that what we’ve done or how we’ve behaved is bad or less than par.
A few years ago, when looking for a better way to live, a way of being happier and less pulled down by the weight of my daily life, I realized I needed to make some changes. I wanted to live my life without an inner critic, and with a sense of kindness toward myself when feeling hurt, scared, sad, or lonely. My goal was to remain mindful that being human means I am vulnerable and imperfect, and that 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, which allows me to learn from my failures rather than to berate myself, then move on in a more skillful and effective way.
Though life can be difficult, I now realize I have skills to manage most emotional challenges, as is the case for most of us. We all have the capacity of mindfulness, or moment-to-moment awareness, and 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. These skills must be practiced and strengthened throughout life in order to handle new emotional challenges thrown our way. A moment of mindful self-compassion can change an experience altogether, and a series of these moments might actually 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 find yourself ruminating about past mistakes or worrying about the future? Research shows 50% of our waking hours are spent with our minds wandering. Wandering minds are looking for danger, and tend to focus on the negative. In reality, it’s present day that needs our attention and gratitude. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis helps you live and enjoy today and be present, noticing people and things going on around you.
How would you talk to a friend if she or he had 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. Understanding and practicing self-compassion helps 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.”
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 and regularly speaks to groups on on a variety of topics such as Attachment, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Trauma and Mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion.
Information on upcoming 8 week 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. Wellness wishes for you in the new year.