First Mindfulness, then Self Compassion
Self -Compassion is a powerful tool that can help you heal from anxiety and depression. It isn’t easy to learn, and one of the main reasons is that we have a hard time being mindful enough to recognize when we are in need of it.
Compassion can be defined as opening our heart in response to suffering. This seems easy enough, but in order to open our heart we need to recognize and be aware of our suffering.
One of the reasons we don’t is that we are wired to move away from our own pain and to distract ourselves from it. But offering ourselves kindness and compassion when we need it has great benefits, and ignoring it causes us to become sick and lead our lives unproductively, so it behooves us to learn this skill.
Recognizing our suffering is the first step to mastering self- compassion. So how to we do it? Just when might we be suffering, other than the obvious times?
When thinking about our own difficulties, every moment of peace where happiness and calm are absent can be considered a moment of suffering. These are moments which require recognition, and later, kindness towards ourselves. Normally, we will brush over these experiences, and ignore them.
Consider these situations which require mindfulness.
· Essentially any time you are wanting something you don’t have or trying to get rid of something you do have ( a feeling or an object) can be a moment of suffering.
· Anytime you are thinking about something unpleasant from the past, or imagining something bad happening in the future can be a moment of suffering
· When you are in a hurry, impatient, frustrated, angry, worried, bored or experiencing any unpleasant emotion can be a moment of suffering
· When you are rushing, impatient, irritated, frustrated, anxious, angry, fearful, bored, sad, or jealous that is suffering.
· When you are consumed with desire for something you want or you are filled with aversion for something you don’t want you are suffering.
· When you are reliving a painful experience from the past or worrying about a future experience you are suffering.
Because we are wired to escape suffering we are often distracting ourselves from our difficult experiences or denying them.
Being present with our difficult experiences, bringing non judgmental awareness to them, knowing you are suffering, is the first step to self compassion.
Without mindfulness of your need for self-compassion, you cannot begin to develop the skill.