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Self-Compassion: How important is it?

All too often we feel that self-compassion is something that other people do or have, or that we are not worthy of this kindness.

So, what is self-compassion?

In a nutshell – it’s about listening to ourselves, asking ourselves what we need in order to function effectively. Ideally these should include a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and enough peaceful sleep for our bodies and mind to recharge. But at times we need more than this. Some people may view this as being selfish or even lazy, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In the dictionary:

Self – Individuality, one’s own self.

Compassion – a feeling of deep sympathy for another who is impacted by misfortune, along with a strong desire to alleviate their suffering.

Putting the two words together, we give that deep sympathy along with the strong desire to alleviate our pain to ourselves.

The Application of Self-Compassion

People who apply self-compassion into their daily lives have a tendency to be more balanced in their approach to life in general, from daily tasks to managing the unexpected. However, this is not to say they do not have their own problems they find difficult to manage.

On top of that, at times you may have extra needs especially when we are faced with difficult times/challenges. The world today is very fast paced that never seems to stop and at times you may feel caught up in that whirlwind. This can leave you with many feelings such as overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated or scared (although as an individual you may experience some, none or other feelings). This can often lead you into a state of not managing daily life effectively. You may find it difficult to face the outside world, you may disconnect or shutdown from situations/others and sometimes even yourself. This is a way of coping in the moment and although not exactly healthy in the moment it allows you to cope in the best way you can and in that moment that is good enough.

Being able to recognise this is not always easy, or you may recognise it but feel unable to change this way of managing.

My Experience

Speaking from my own experience I used to be very shutdown to everything and everyone. I had no idea at the time as it was a coping mechanism from childhood (I knew no different). I thought others simply did not like me and I kind of accepted that that was how my life was to be (although it did make me sad). It was through my personal therapy and exploring different events in my life that I found understanding and started to let the barriers down (allowing others in), I started to relax more and laugh. I found self-compassion and yes, it took some time for me to relax with this and allow myself what I really needed in the moment (although sometimes the moment does have to wait – e.g. I need a nap but I’m at work). I learnt to accept that in order to function more effectively, I needed to take the time to check-in with myself regularly throughout the day and recognise what I needed, if anything. I thought this would take up too much time, that I was being selfish, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth! It literally takes seconds to just stop and check-in – how do I feel? Do I need anything that I can have right now or is there something I can have later?

Would you like support with applying self-compassion?

I offer a free 30-minute telephone consultation so, if you feel you can relate to this or any of my other blogs and would like support please contact me through either my website, British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) register or Counselling Directory (CD) register and I will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

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