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Mindful Self-Compassion

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What is Mindful Self-Compassion?

Mindful self-compassion can be likened to the act of offering ourselves an umbrella on a rainy day.

Take a moment to recall an act of compassion you’ve done for another person. Were you able to notice that he/she was suffering? Were you able to feel how difficult his/her experience could be as well as the desire to help him/her in some way? Were you able to offer understanding and kindness to the person instead of judging him/her harshly?

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Mindful self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. It means you honour and accept your humanness. Things don't always go your way - there will be frustrations, losses, defeats, mistakes and other unfortunate events in life. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us and as Dr. Kristen Neff mentioned, “The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.”

The Three Elements of Mindful Self-Compassion

 

MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is a practice that can be developed into a positive life habit. It consists of paying attention, with full intention and awareness, to what we are experiencing, in the present moment, and moment by moment. These experiences may consist of thoughts, feelings, moods, emotions, or bodily sensations.

An important aspect of mindfulness practice is that we learn to be open, allowing and to not evaluate or judge these experiences as they arise. When we face our sufferings and relieve them, mindfulness helps us to avoid being “overly-identified” with thoughts and feelings, lest we get caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

COMMON HUMANITY

When unfortunate events occur, many people’s first instincts are often to question “Why me?”, “Am I not good enough?”, “Why is this happening?” as if “I” were the only one suffering. However, the truth is that all humans suffer and our problems are not unique.

Therefore, self-compassion involves recognising that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.

SELF-KINDNESS

Instead of criticising ourselves, the ability to offer self-kindness brings warmth and understanding to our sufferings. Self-compassionate people recognise and acknowledge that experiencing difficulties in life is inevitable.

When we deny or fight against this reality, suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism. When we accept this reality with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity (calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation) is experienced.


 
 

Benefits of Mindful Self-Compassion

As a practice and approach to living, mindful self-compassion aims at profound flourishing. Practiced over a period of years, it seeks to create an emotionally balanced, meaningful life, animated by a spirit of compassion and caring. As a result, mindful self-compassion is able to bring about an array of benefits including:

 
 
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Can the skill of
Mindful Self-Compassion be learnt?

Yes, the skill of mindful self-compassion can be learnt and developed through diligent practice over a period of time. The image below charts how mindful self-compassion can typically be developed:

 
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With proper guidance and trainings from certified trainers and field experts, you can expect to see the benefits of mindful self-compassion manifest themselves in your life in the long run.

Click here to find out how you can get started on the journey towards a more mindful and compassionate life!