3 Ways to Cultivate Self Compassion
Lack of self compassion is a common cause of anxiety, depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence, feelings of failure and low energy.
Before you turn to pharmaceutical drugs to solve these problems, I recommend you look within.
This week, I found myself talking to all kinds of clients about the heart intelligence commonly known as compassion.
To me, compassion is intelligence of the heart because this awareness can guide us to communicate with ourselves and all others in ways that are not only kind but also emotionally intelligent.
When we are compassionate with our friends, we instinctively know how to respond to what is going on right now.
When we are compassionate with ourselves, we allow ourselves to process whatever is going on without judgment.
When you are a little easier on yourself, your energy brightens, your heart lightens and you bring a joy that uplifts everyone around you.
How can you cultivate self compassion?
Here are three simple ways:
- Listen to your inner child.
- Listen to the story you are telling yourself in any given moment without judgment.
Here’s how you can put these simple practices to work:
Meditate. Whether you pause and breathe for 60 seconds or 60 minutes, when you meditate you increase your own ability to connect to your heart intelligence. A scientific research paper published in 2005 by researchers at Indiana State University concluded:
“Meditative practice is neither necessary nor sufficient to create a sense ofcompassion toward self or toward others, but it may be that meditation, by systematically providing a tool to suspend engagement in usual thought processes and hence suspension of self-judgment, carries unique value in promoting empathy and compassion.”
Listen to your inner child. No matter how old you are, you have an inner child. Your inner child can be a great source of joy, wonder and lightness. As we mature, we often lose connection with our inner child and in so doing forget how to be simply happy. At any given moment, you can reconnect with this essential aspect of your true self by asking yourself two simple questions:
- What do you need right now?
- What do you want?
You can set aside your shoulds, your to-do lists, your goals and ambitions and draw yourself more deeply into the moment by listening carefully to your inner child.
Listen to the story you are telling yourself in any given moment without judgment. Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who may be the most compassionate person I have ever met.
I have observed with awe how he has been able to form immediate, loving bonds with people he has only just met.
“What’s your secret?” I asked him.
“I don’t judge anybody,” he replied simply.
His heart is so open that you can feel it.
His heart is so open people immediately connect with him.
They know he is on their side and indeed he has more friends than I can even count.
We can practice this same level of compassion with ourselves by drawing our awareness to the story we happen to be telling ourselves and at least momentarily suspending judgment.
So you’re telling yourself a tale of tragedy now are you?
So you’re feeling angry, hurt, put off, intimidated?
So you’re feeling tense, depressed, anxious?
Whatever it is, pay attention because more than likely it’s going to change.
Just by pausing to listen, you cultivate even one second of detached awareness.
The part of you that is aware of the story your ego mind keeps repeating is your soul.
Your soul, also known in the yogic tradition as anandamayakosha, can be translated as “the body of bliss.”
No matter how deeply you are suffering, there is this aspect of yourself, your soul, that maintains at least some degree of bliss.
By stopping to pause and wonder what you’re saying to yourself, you connect into the detachment of this bliss state.
The more you cultivate your awareness, the more you naturally experience this bliss.
In so doing, your soul can express compassion for the suffering you are feeling.
And you feel comforted.
Not by anybody else, but by your true self.
What is healing?
Healing happens when we cultivate deep levels of self compassion.
The harder you are on yourself, the worse things get.
Learn to cultivate the heart intelligence of your own self compassion and allow yourself to know and experience what it is you truly need to get better.