Do you find that you are always beating yourself up every time you make a mistake? Are you able to let others off the hook for their behaviors while constantly criticizing yourself for your errors? Do you find that you are often thinking about yourself in critical terms?
Many of us are all too used to bashing ourselves. And it’s not surprising. In our society, we’re taught that being hard on ourselves and ashamed of everything, from our actions to our looks, gets results. Self-criticism is the preferred path to success. We rarely think about showing ourselves kindness. Or even if we do, we worry that doing so is selfish, complacent or arrogant.
But research shows that self-criticism only sabotages us and produces a variety of negative consequences, for instance lowered self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Compassion is what you would show towards a loved one struggling with a difficult situation. Self-compassion has been linked to greater well being, including diminished anxiety and depression, better emotional coping skills, resillience and compassion for others.
Self-compassion consists of three components:
Self-kindness: Being kind, gentle and understanding with yourself when you are suffering.
Common humanity: Realizing that you are not alone in your struggles. When we are struggling, we tend to feel especially isolated. We think we are the only ones to experience loss, make mistakes, feel rejected or fail. But it’s these very struggles that are part of our shared experience as humans.
Mindfulness: Observing life as it is, without being judgmental or suppressing our thoughts and feelings.
Myths about Self-Compassion
Myth: Self-compassion is self-pitying or egocentric. Fact: Self-pity is being immersed in your own problems and forgetting that others struggle, too. However, being self-compassionate is seeing things exactly as they are - no more and no less. It means acknowledging that you are suffering, while acknowledging that others have similar problems or are suffering even more. It is putting your problems into perspective.
Myth: Self-compassion is self-indulgent. Fact: Being self-compassionate doesn’t mean solely seeking pleasure. It is not shirking responsibilities or being lazy. Rather, self-compassion focuses on alleviating suffering. From this perspective, you consider whether something will hurt you in the long run.
Myth: Self-criticism is an effective motivator. Fact: There is actually nothing motivating about criticizing yourself, because it makes you fear failure and lose faith in yourself. Even if you do achieve great things, you are often miserable, anyway.
It is interesting that in other areas of our lives we understand that being harsh doesn’t work. Take the example of parenting. Decades ago, we thought that harsh punishment and criticism were effective in keeping kids in line and helping them do well. However, today we know that being a supportive and encouraging parent is more beneficial. Self-compassion acts like a nurturing parent. So even when you don’t do well, you are still supportive and accepting of yourself. Like a kind parent, your support and love are unconditional, and you realize that it is perfectly ok to be imperfect. This doesn’t mean being complacent. Self-criticism tears us down; it presumes that “I am bad.” Self-compassion, however, focuses on changing the behavior that is making us unhealthy or unhappy.
This five-week power circle course will provide you with the tools to become self-compassioned. You will learn how to speak to yourself in a kinder and gentler way, learn powerful mindfulness skills, and connect with our common humanity. In this course you will learn how self-compassion is preferable to self-esteem, how to utilize new techniques and exercises to develop your self-compassion, and how to process through difficult emotions with more kindness.
Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. -Arthur Jersild-
Photo by Danielle Marroquin
Resources: The course is influenced by the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D., researcher and author of the book Self-Compassion. • Germer, C. K. (2009). The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions.New York: Guilford Press. • Bennett-Goleman, T. (2001). Emotional alchemy: How the mind can heal the heart.New York: Three Rivers Press. • Brach, T. (2003) Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha. New York: Bantam. • Brown, B. (1999). Soul without shame: A guide to liberating yourself from the judge within. Boston: Shambala. • Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Center City, MN: Hazelden. • Feldman, C. (2005). Compassion: Listening to the cries of the world. Berkeley: Rodmell Press. • Gilbert, P. (2009). The compassionate mind. London: Constable. • Goldstein, E. (2015). Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion. New York: Simon & Schuster. • Goldstein, J., & Kornfield, J. (1987). Seeking the heart of wisdom: The path of insight meditation. Boston: Shambhala. • Hanh, T. N. (1997). Teachings on love. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press. • Kornfield, J. (1993). A path with heart. New York: Bantam Books. • Rosenberg, M. (2003). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Encinitas, CA: Puddledancer Press. • Salzberg, S. (1997). Lovingkindness: The revolutionary art of happiness. Boston: Shambala. Salzberg, S. (2005). The force of kindness: change your life with love and compassion. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
REFUND POLICY Like any other educational tuition, payment for courses and workshops are collected up front to reserve your seat. Full refunds are granted up until 24 hours prior to the first class meeting. After this time, no partial or prorated refunds will be issued.