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If Your Compassion Does Not Include Yourself, It Is Incomplete

If Your Compassion Does Not Include Yourself, It Is Incomplete

If your best friend stood you up for a date at the movies, would you be forgiving and understanding when he/she explained what happened?

If you made that same mistake to your best friend, would you be forgiving and understanding of your own mistake? Would you mentally beat yourself up for days or would you just chalk it up to human error and circumstances?

That ability for you to be understanding of your own mistakes in life is self-compassion.

Do you give more consideration for others when they make mistakes than you do for yourself? If you do, then your need to evaluate your self-compassion, as it has a huge impact on your mental well being.

We can have good self-esteem but little self-compassion.

You may have good self-esteem, meaning you think you are a person of value and therefore you believe in your abilities. However, you can have good self-esteem, but without self-compassion you will struggle to accept your failures as human error or circumstantial.

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Without self-compassion, you will be extremely hard on yourself and your personal mistakes, which therefore will affect your self-esteem negatively. If you always criticize yourself when bad things happen, then your mental health can also be adversely affected. Not being too hard on yourself, or having self-compassion is essential to your mental well being, so you better know if you have it or not.

Self-compassion is the ability to be understanding toward yourself.

Having good self-compassion means that you are understanding and considerate toward yourself, as you would be for a dear friend. Often in life, people are hard on themselves, hoping that it will propel them to greater success.

Theories of self-compassion explain that your success is more likely to happen if you have good self-compassion. The reason is because you are more likely to survive set backs, mistakes, and trials with a greater ability to rebound, get back up and try again because you are self-compassionate.

Dr. Kristen Neff is a a world renowned expert on self-compassion. She explains that self-compassion involves providing yourself with understanding when you fail:[1]

“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

Dr. Neff explains that three components make up self-compassion. Understanding these three components can help you understand whether you possess self compassion. These components include: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

Instead of being overly critical of yourself, be kind to yourself.

In possessing self-kindness you are not judgmental toward yourself or your failings. It also means that you aren’t overly critical of yourself. You look at things realistically, but allow yourself to accept failure as part of the human process. If you don’t allow yourself self-kindness and instead are judgmental of yourself, you will experience negative consequences. Scientific American examined self-compassion and explained the result of self-judgment on an individual’s mental health:[2]

“Unfortunately, self-criticism can lead to generalized hostility (toward oneself and others), anxiety and depression; these are problems that can handicap people from reaching their full potential.”

Instead of indulging in sadness, recognize that suffering happens to everyone of us.

Common humanity is the second component associated with self-compassion. This is simply your ability to recognize your life’s ups and downs as something that happen to all people. Dr. Neff describes common humanity as “recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience”. Life ups and downs happen to all people. If you think they are happening to only you or that your pain is not also felt by others experiencing the same or similar situations, then you are isolating yourself. Recognizing that suffering in life happens to all people, including yourself, is part of having self-compassion.

Instead of suppressing your emotions, acknowledge them.

The third component to having self-compassion is mindfulness. According to Dr. Neff this involves:

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“a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them”.

For some this would be considered having emotional intelligence. It is the ability to acknowledge your feelings and emotions, but not wallowing in them. Repressing your feelings does not help you with self-compassion. You need to allow yourself to experience emotions, but with an awareness that your emotions should not swallow you up.

To build your self-compassion, stop being so critical of yourself.

Lack of self-compassion is tied to being overly critical of oneself. Just like most aspects of self identity they are often tied to childhood. How we were spoken to or treated as a child can have a great impact on our self-compassion. If you were told “you are useless”‘or “you can’t do anything right” on a regular basis as a child, you may carry those thoughts and memories with you into adulthood. Even if you don’t believe those words for yourself today, they can subconsciously or unconsciously impact your ability to be compassionate with yourself. Also meaning, if you fail, those criticisms of being useless or unable to do anything right may come back to haunt you, whether they are conscious thoughts or unconscious thoughts.

Therapy can be a great help in uncovering those defeating statements that may be feeding your soul and mind when you fail. Those defeating statements are preventing you from being compassionate toward yourself. Consider therapy if you lack self-compassion and especially if you can’t identify the core cause. Identifying the core cause can help you dispel and discredit those harmful words previously spoken about you or to you.

There is a self-compassion assessment which let you find out how well you personally provide compassion to yourself. You can try the test here: Self-Compassion Assessment and take the following steps to love yourself better.

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Emma Seppala[3] identified some practical ways that you can help you boost your self-compassion today. Here are her tips:

    Self-compassion may come easier to some and more difficult for others. It is an important component of your well being that is worth taking the time and effort to improve upon.

    “…research suggests that self-compassion provides an island of calm, a refuge from the stormy seas of endless positive and negative self-judgment, so that we can finally stop asking, “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?” By tapping into our inner wellsprings of kindness, acknowledging the shared nature of our imperfect human condition, we can start to feel more secure, accepted, and alive.”[4]

    Dr. Neff eloquently summarizes the greatest benefit of self-compassion, which in essence is acceptance of ones self, imperfections and all.

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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    Published on November 28, 2018

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

    The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

    So how to do meditation?

    The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

    Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

    From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

    You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

    1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

    Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

    The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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    The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

    Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

    2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

    Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

    Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

    Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

    • Living things, such as plants
    • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
    • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
    • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
    • Furniture away from walls
    • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
    • Incense or something else that smells good
    • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

    Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

    3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

    In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

    However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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    In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

    Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

    Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

    4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

    Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

    Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

    Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

    5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

    At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

    Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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    We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

    This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

    6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

    As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

    Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

    If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

    If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

    7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

    What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

    Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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    1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
    2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
    3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
    4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
    5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

    As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

    Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

    You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

    Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

    You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

    Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

    You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

    You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

    As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

    Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
    [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
    [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
    [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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