Self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself with the same care and kindness as you would a good friend who was going through a difficult and stressful time. Award-winning Mental Health trainer, coach, mindfulness and self-compassion facilitator, Kirsty Lilley explains how we can develop emotional resilience and simply be kinder to ourselves through self-compassion.
‘Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you’re good enough, self-compassion asks what’s good for you, what do you need?’ Kristin Neff
Showing compassion to others
When we are compassionate to others, we have an intention to be with them through the difficulties they are experiencing and to alleviate their suffering and stress in some way. This can often be very different to the way we treat ourselves through the challenges of life. How often have we provided support for someone we care about and yet end up criticising ourselves endlessly for our various perceived inadequacies or shortcomings.
Many of us have been taught to put others first. However, neglecting ourselves in order to do this isn’t an effective or sustainable long term strategy. We need to consider what we also need to keep emotionally well. Maintaining the inner capacity to be there for our family, friends and colleagues is reliant on looking after ourselves.
Self-compassion means you are understanding and kind to yourself when confronted with personal failings and mistakes – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?
Why we need to be compassionate towards ourselves
‘I learned a long time ago that the wisest thing I can do for myself is be on my own side’ – Maya Angelou
Feeling stressed and being hard on ourselves is very common. Especially so in a culture which is increasingly performance and target focused. Loneliness and isolation are also increasing in our ever digitally focused world.
If you are finding it difficult to manage the many challenges, threats and distractions of our modern world, you are not alone. Current figures show one in four people are developing a mental health difficulty in any given year. Furthermore, the levels of distress within young people continues to rise, with many people struggling to align life with their deeper values and needs.
A self-critical and unkind stance towards yourself, particularly when you are going through testing times, will only serve to activate the fight or flight stress response. This clouds the minds ability to remain calm.
Some people may feel reluctant to develop self-compassion as they feel the notion is self-indulgent or self-pitying. However, it is quite the opposite. Developing the ability and strength to face and manage our difficulties, without isolating ourselves from others and becoming absorbed in our own pain, is the essence of courageous living. Being able to attend to your own difficulties and challenges wisely, will enable you to have the spare emotional capacity to engage with others and life in a more helpful way.
According to Kristin Neff there are three key elements to compassion:
An ability to relate to ourselves with warmth and kindness.
The appreciation that we all suffer at times and you are not alone in these feelings.
The ability to view our difficulties in a balanced perspective so that we can keep engaging in life.
How to develop emotional resilience
There has been much interest in the effects of developing compassion within ourselves from a scientific perspective. Research has shown that people who score high on self-compassion:
- Cope better with adversities
- Take more personal initiative and responsibility
- Are less fearful of making mistakes and being rejected
- Are more emotionally intelligent, happier and more optimistic
- Take better care of themselves physically and emotionally.
The good news is that our compassionate self can be developed and enhanced through training and practice. This will enable us to become more attuned to supporting ourselves through the difficulties of life. When we sabotage ourselves, we actually make situations more unmanageable than they need to be.
Self-Compassion Day Retreat
We’re excited to be teaming up with Kirsty to deliver this not to be missed Self-compassion Day Retreat, to help prevent burnout and anxiety – something that is sadly affecting more and more of us.
During this workshop, you will walk away armed with strategies to cope during difficult times and learn how to be less critical of yourself.
This will be followed by a delicious and healthy homemade lunch. The afternoon will include a Mindful Walk to the Wootton Park woods and a refreshing Forest Bathing session. A Dove Release will also be offered for those who wish to partake, a symbolic way to let go of something which no longer serves you.
We will then return to the Wellness Yurt to set a new intention through meditation, followed by some delicious cakes and bakes, during which time, Kirsty will be available to answer any questions. The Wellness Yurt is fully heated set in 360 acres of Warwickshire countryside. Hope you can come along, places are limited and can be booked here.