The Power of Self-Compassion

heart handsIn the Q Process, we are asked to feel compassion for that part of ourselves that has shown up for healing. It can be easy to overlook this vital step, to merely check it off on the worksheet or stay on a more intellectual level of understanding, rather than actually taking a moment to sink into the feeling of compassion for ourselves before continuing in the process.

Bringing forth the feeling of self-compassion can be deeply nourishing and healing. It gives us what we needed as a child and helps to loosen the grip of the story in order to release it and create a new, life-affirming narrative. When all parts of ourselves are loved and welcomed, we stop projecting disowned parts onto others. All parts of our divided self become integrated.

When dealing with a sense of unworthiness or inadequacy, it can be very challenging to find a way to feel compassion for ourselves. We can so often be our own harshest critic and by judging ourselves, we step into an experience of separation. As Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind writes, “we are incredibly callous when relating to our own inadequacies and we slam the door of our heart in our own face.”

Lost in the shadow quality of unworthiness, we can feel isolated in our own private prison of shame, thinking thoughts like, “I don’t measure up” or “I am not good enough.” Widening our circle of compassion and including ourselves in it, gives us the opportunity to reconnect and let ourselves out of that prison of isolation.

 

So when we are in the midst of a painful place, how do we give ourselves compassion? Dr. Neff gives us a process to follow.

  • Acknowledge you are suffering by internally stating, “this is suffering.”
  • Consider that all of humanity suffers as part of the human condition and realize you are not alone. This pivotal insight in the healing process helps to dissolve the sense of painful isolation.
  • Offer yourself kindness with a mantra such as: This is a moment of suffering. All of humanity suffers. May I be kind to myself.

The insightful observation that came out of her process was the realization that by responding to our own pain with a sense of kindness, we are creating positive emotions that weren’t there a moment earlier. It is not about squashing the pain, it is about feeling both the pain and bringing forth elements of self-compassion at the same time.

We move beyond a sense of inadequacy, as we begin to feel both inadequate and connected to our shared humanity. Instead of being engulfed by sadness, we feel sad and tender toward ourselves. Rather than being overtaken by fear, we feel both the fear and comfort from our own kindness and nurturing. Eventually, the connection, the tenderness and the kindness grow beyond the pain and we step into the healing balm of self-compassion.

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Hidden within every moment of anguish is the potential for peace. Pain actually becomes a doorway to happiness. When we stop slamming the door of our hearts in our own faces it truly opens the way for us to transform and step into who we have come here to be.

 

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