In the past year, I’ve been slightly obsessed with learning about Self-Compassion. What I’ve found most interesting through my studies is this: it seems the more compassion we have for ourselves, the more compassion we begin to have for others.
Sometimes people feel that giving compassion = getting off easy. I see that side too. But let me ask you this:
Has it ever worked well when you try and shame yourself for doing something that maybe wasn’t the best choice? Has it ever been effective or felt good to shame someone for something you think they did wrong?
There have been ZERO studies to show that effective change is made from a place of shame. It just doesn’t happen. Plus, in my own experience, I never EVER feel good after I’ve said something shameful to someone close to me. It feels terrible.
“Can I please take back that word vomit?”
Having more compassion for myself and others has been HUGE for me. It’s helped me to understand my own needs, be less judgmental of myself and others, and release myself from anger, frustration, and bitterness.
Self-compassion is also something I work on with my clients in coaching, and I see how releasing shame and turning guilt into reflection (side note: I’ll blog about this too) helps my clients move forward.
So, how do you have more compassion for yourself and others?
1. We all mess up.
This simple reminder can really help you to turn harshness into gentleness.
“Oh, you messed up? That’s okay, I mess up too. We all do. How do you want to feel now?”
“Oh, I messed up? That’s normal, everyone messes up sometimes. What can I learn from this?”
2. Hurt people, hurt people.
I heard this at Church over the weekend, and dang, isn’t that the truth. Think of a time that you’ve felt hurt, and have said something hurtful to someone close to you. I’ve totally done this.
When I recognize this truth, I take things less personally and remember that if someone is hurtful with their words, it’s because they are also hurting. This gives me compassion for them and allows me to step back.
3. Every act is an act of love, or a cry for love.
This one is pretty self explanatory. I learned this in of my trainings this year and it has really stuck with me. As I view actions through this lens, that every act is an act of love, or a cry for love, I can separate myself from mine/someone else’s reactions and show compassion.
4. Make sense of the situation.
When you want to have more compassion but feel confused or upset about choices that were made (whether you or someone else made them), get curious and aim to make sense of, or understand, the situation.
Let’s say someone else did something and you feel hurt. Ask yourself questions:
“Was the person having a stressful day? Were they hurting? Were they feeling shame? How do I feel when I feel hurt or shame? Is it possible that this person could be dealing with more than I know about? Have I ever done something that hurt someone? Oh, yeah…”
Self-compassion = positive change
Think about a time that you messed up and someone forgave you with total grace. How did that feel? THAT’S what we want to give to ourselves and others. True change comes from the place of non-judgement, compassion, and loving-kindness.
I want to hear from you…
What are your thoughts? Does this feel like a good starting place to have more compassion for yourself and/or others? If you want more, check out Kristin Neff’s book where I’ve been learning about this.