Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…
It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice, we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens… In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations. Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…
I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online: http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…
We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…
When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself! Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.
For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression. I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes! Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!
In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.
Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:
- Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
- Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
- Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…
If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would
- Notice they are struggling
- Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
- Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing
As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!! We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!
So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself. I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.
But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…
And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself… So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!
I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar? Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?
I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017. We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!
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