Learning About Self-Compassion

My search for meaningful connection

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In July I was delighted to attend a one day self-compassion and emotional resilience workshop led by Dr. Kristin Neff and organised by The Mindfulness Project. Dr. Neff isone of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion and author of the book, ‘Self-Compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind’. Afterwards I was lucky enough to interview her for Psychologies Magazine about the role that self-compassion plays in our daily lives and some of the ways in which we can develop it.

This was a big step in my connections project because I know that self-compassion will play an important part in my journey, particularly when I’m being hard on myself for not fitting in, as I so often am.

You can read the full interview on the Psychologies website but here I have pulled out four key things from it that really stood out for me.

1. On the benefits of self-compassion: Self-compassion helps you hold life’s challenges in a sense of support, care, tenderness and connectedness.

2. On how you can really start to feel self-compassion: The more you try self-compassion, it will start to feel authentic. With time and practice, we can start to feel compassion for ourselves.

3. On different ways to access a compassion response when it feels difficult: This includes physical warmth; a gentle touch; soothing vocalisations; a warm tone of voice. Sometimes a gesture such as putting your hands on your heart or cradling your face or your stomach – a warm, supportive, physical gesture – can help.

4. On what to do if you are struggling with self-compassion: For people struggling to be compassionate to themselves, it can help think about people in your life that you find it easy to be compassionate to, like a child or a good friend, and to think about what the effect would be on those people if you said to them what you are saying to yourself.

I learned a lot from this interview but what resonated with me the most was when Dr. Neff talked about connection, because it relates directly to my work. She said: ‘In some ways, compassion for self and others both stem from the same thing – understanding the human condition, understanding that none of us are in total control of our reactions, none of us are in total control of our behaviours. All of us are continually influenced by thousands of causes and conditions outside of our own control and that is just as true for ourselves as it is for others. So, if you treat yourself with a whole different set of rules than you treat others, you are kind of causing this false separation between self and others that I think leads to disconnection’.


The Connected Outsider

I have always felt like an ‘outsider’ in life for a number of reasons, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realise just how many other women feel this way. I recently turned forty which has forced me to do something about this, and my blog posts tell the story about my search for meaningful connections – not just with other people, but also with myself and even the world around me.