Self-compassion is the ability to be kind with the stream of negative thoughts and emotions that we experience. Most of us have thoughts like, “I’m not good enough.”, “I am a failure.”, “I am a bad person”, which lead to feeling tensed, irritated, defensive and stressed.
If you are like me, you may want to be grounded in a relaxed and joyful state of being. But how can we make the transition from a “stressed most of the time” state to a “relaxed and enthusiastic” state? Self-compassion can create the bridge between these two states.
How could self-compassion become a habit of the mind?
I have practiced short self-compassion meditations on and off, for 2 years now. For me, being self-compassionate is about allowing myself to feel bad when things seem to fall apart. How do I do that?
1. By accepting that my ego wants me to survive and succeed. As a result, it doesn’t like it when there is some evidence pointing in the direction of failure.
2. By reminding myself that my ego is like a little child that needs patience until the day when it grows old enough to understand that the way it perceives the experiences does not reflect the ultimate truth.
Take this example: you are working on a project you care about. At one point, your boss or a colleague gives you negative feedback about your work. Self-compassion comes in to soothe the “I feel like a failure” thinking. By paying close attention to how the negative thoughts are taking form in your mind, you can learn to reformulate them so that you create a shift from negative thinking to constructive thinking.
Instead of thinking, “I feel like a failure now.”, you can overwrite that thought with “Now I can see the work I have done from my boss’s perspective.” This is the tipping point when we can take some distance from the bad feelings, from taking personally the perceived critique to “There are different opinions on my work.”
Everyone has an ego who wants them to succeed and an unique way of perceiving. Let’s be compassionate with all the suffering that results when 2 or more perceptions seem to collide.