You don’t have to just lay there and take it.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness.
Inner peace doesn’t come easily; yet learning to love yourself and practice self-compassion are important life skills essential for self-growth and development, for self-compassion and our well-being are inextricably linked. You can be a great, kind and loyal best friend to others, but your own harshest critic, which is very self-defeating; a destructive form of self-sabotage if ever there was one.
Being kind to yourself is important to avoid depression, misery and sadness; you have to give yourself positive daily messages to build and retain self-confidence, self-worth and your own inner peace and happiness. And self-care isn’t about being indulgent – in fact, it’s vital for our good health and well-being.
Brisbane psychologist Kobie Allison, 31, concurs, with self-compassion a hot topic in psychology right now. The psychologist/director of a private practice – which specialises in children, teens and families and acute and complex trauma – says self-compassion is essentially the art of being your own best friend.
Kobie, (pictured), says research has shown that a lack of self-compassion can lead to “depression, anxiety and stress, eating disorders, perceived helplessness, negative affect, and maladaptive coping behaviour.”
“In essence, self-compassion is treating oneself as worthy of the upmost love, respect, warmth, care and compassion,” she says. “Self-compassion is giving to you, what you so freely give to others.
“It is the inner-realisation that your feelings matter, that your pain and suffering matter, that ultimately you matter. Self-compassion is embracing and allowing your humanness and suffering to be exposed to yourself and others, and to experience this with self-kindness and respect.”
Kobie says American self-compassion expert, Dr Kristin Neff defines the three vital elements of self-compassion as:
Self-kindness: Being empathic, forgiving, sensitive and warm towards ourselves when we have suffered, failed, or we feel inadequate.
Common humanity: Recognising that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of being “human”. It is our shared human experience of feeling vulnerable and imperfect that provides a connection to others through our shared human experience.
Mindfulness: This allows people to observe their negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness, rather than suppressing or denying their feelings.
So, we know that self-compassion is imperative for our own happiness, but how does it affect our close relationships? “People with higher levels of self-compassion report higher levels of life satisfaction, social relatedness, reflective and affective wisdom, personal initiative, curiosity and exploration, optimism, emotional intelligence, self-determination and more,” Kobie says.
“And research has also shown that self-compassion is also a positive predictor of healthy romantic relationships. It is through cultivating a sense of kindness, common humanity and mindfulness that we are enabled to be kinder and more supportive to those we care about.
“Interestingly, Kristin Neff found that individuals who practice self-compassion, tend to describe their partners as more affectionate, intimate, accepting and autonomous. In summary, this researcher noted that if an individual has a high-level of self-compassion, they are able to better take responsibility, forgive, and learn and grow from experience.
“In addition, an individual who is able to meet their own emotional needs through self-compassion, places less expectation and pressure on their loved ones. This allows both partners to be more giving and generous with one another.”
So, rather than falling prey to the self-destructive “princess myth” and looking for that white knight to rescue you, Kobie says look within for strength and the ability to self-soothe and calm, as relationships based on need often lead to drama and disappointment. What’s more, if you’re having a really bad day, practising the art of self-compassion can really help.
“Self-compassion can aid a person in times of suffering, such as having a bad day. Suffering affects our happiness, the happiness of those around us, and our behaviours throughout the day,” Kobie says. “For instance, suffering can lead to stress, frustration, anger towards others, feeling bad about yourself, feeling rushed, distraction, procrastination, not exercising, unhealthy eating and a lack of gratitude.
“Therefore, developing a self-compassion practice allows us to approach triumph and tribulation with understanding, kindness and compassion. So, rather than beating up ourselves up, we should instead acknowledge our suffering and ask ourselves: “What do I need in this moment? What kind gesture can I provide myself in loving-kindness?”
So, in learning self-compassion, Kobie advises us to try taking a “self-compassion break”. Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that’s causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. Now, say to yourself:
- This is a moment of suffering: That’s mindfulness. Other options include:
- This hurts.
- This is stress.
- Suffering is a part of life: That’s common humanity. Other options include:
- Other people feel this way.
- I’m not alone.
- We all struggle in our lives.
Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest. Or adopt the soothing touch you discovered felt right for you.
- May I be kind to myself: Say this to yourself. You can also ask yourself: “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:
- May I give myself the compassion that I need.
- May I learn to accept myself as I am.
- May I forgive myself.
- May I be strong.
- May I be patient
This practice can be used any time of day or night and is said to help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.
Image via psychcentral.com
Ever had the break-up blues? You might wonder why on earth we’d make light of that but, when you think about it, it really is one of life’s most pathetic moments. It’s not a memory you want to savour, take photos and stick up on your Facebook page, now is it?
Then again some people put everything on social media. He’s dumped me. I’m crying. I’m listening to sad songs and crying. Oh, the pain! Seriously, no one wants to see that crap. Imagine your next job interview? They do ask for your social media links, these days. You didn’t know that? Well, you do now!
Having seen your last 50 Facebook statuses or hearing it via the gossip vine, friends and family may try to console and comfort you. What’s with that? You are miserable. It’s no secret. You certainly won’t be the best company. Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend time with someone who is miserable?
Bottom line: It makes them uncomfortable. They need you to feel good, so they can feel good. Basic social psychology, folks. You thought it was your selfish stage to mourn and grieve, right? No. It’s your friends and relatives selfish stage. They have the best of intentions, but they are usually blissfully unaware of what they are doing or why.
That won’t last long though. Miserable people repel others. You’ve been whinging, whining and totally obsessed with your broken heart and your ex. Ever time they try to change the subject, because you’ve driven them crazy, you change it right back. They need to get as far away from you as possible. NOW – before they crack!
This is when you’ve learned break-ups are best handled alone. You can begin to grieve without distraction. Instead of hiding tears when your friends suggest watching a comedy and something reminds you of your ex, you can ball your damn eyes out. You can avoid showering, eating right, maybe drink too much, avoid sunlight, ditch work, and generally make a complete and utter mess of yourself. Now, this here is your selfish stage!
Maybe this is what your well meaning friends and relies were trying to save you from. Yeah? No. Be 100 per cent, research assured, it was their needs they were tying to meet, but weren’t they useful while they were doing it? At least you didn’t smell bad.
This period of chaos only ceases when you’ve hit rock bottom and you are faced with two very distinct options. The first is to pick yourself up, right here and now and get on with living.
Then there’s option two. Your job will go if you neglect going to work, that’s a given. Then, you’ll have no money. Makes sense doesn’t it? Homelessness will then become a very real probability. That is, unless you can manage to convince one of those well meaning friends or relies to take you in so you can “lounge surf” until you’re ok.
The only thing is the stress of having no fixed address, no job, no money and, of course, no partner will be considered stressors, in psych terms, and provide ideal conditions to bring on an episode of mental illness. What? You don’t think this happens? You clearly haven’t spoken to any homeless men!
Yes, folks. This is the grim reality of the break up blues. Next time those “helpful” friends and relies come to the rescue; think back to option number two. Welcome them in. Thank all that is good and holy that they are selfish enough to want to come and save you!
Image via pad3.whstatic.com
Therapy isn’t a replacement for a friend or loved one. Rather it is something that may help you get your life back in order. You don’t have to be crazy to see a therapist, sometimes people need someone who is trained, open-minded and understanding to talk to once a week to help them ease things in their life that have got out of control. Of course it’s not for everyone but some of us may need it – so don’t be scared to try.
Do you think you may need it?
- Can’t seem to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the mornings.
- Life for you is not fun.
- Cry often and don’t know why you do.
- Even though you appear to be successful on the outside you don’t feel that you are.
- Are constantly in a stressed situation.
- Feel you let people down all the time, work colleagues, friends, partners and life in general.
Who are the people that can help?
You may have heard all these names, psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor and psychoanalyst but what do they really do?
Psychologists have a university degree in mind and behaviour. They believe that people’s emotional and behavioral problems stem not from unresolved inner conflicts but from faulty things in their life that can be unlearned. For example if you suffer from depression, addictions, phobias you are taught new more positive thoughts and behaviours.
They have a medical degree and have specialised in the study of the mind. They deal with serious mental and emotional disorders like manic depression, psychosis and schizophrenia, the patient is prescribed medication by the psychiatrist. You have to get a referral from your GP, if you feel you need to see a psychiatrist. Things to consider are infrequent mood swings, insomnia, you are severely depressed and think people are always out to get you.
They are immediate helpers, who help resolve relationship problems, anxiety and depression to grief. Counselling is usually short term and can be as brief as three or four weeks. They are supportive and skilled at listening and encouraging people to talk freely. Training can range from a weekend workshop to two to three years under supervision.
Trains from five to seven years following the teachings of Sigmund Freud some are also doctors. They help to change the way someone thinks, based on overcoming repressed and unconscious childhood traumas. You lie on a couch and talk freely about anything that comes into your mind. Seeing a psychoanalyst is often long-term and is often when someone is very distressed.