Jan162013In the Self-caring pillar of the Foundations of Well-being program, Self-compassion is this week’s theme. Compassion toward yourself is good for your health, resilience and self-worth.

The root of compassion is self-compassion.

Pema Chodron

Compassion is the wish that a being not suffer, usually with the feelings of warm-hearted concern or sympathy. 

What is suffering? It is physical or mental discomfort – on a spectrum from mild to intense.

Compassion is not the same as:

Liking the other person

Agreeing, approving or forgiving

Thinking that the person’s reactions are reasonable

Waiving your own rights

You can even have compassion for people who have caused their own suffering.

Compassion wants to help even if you can’t. Your compassion is still real, even if you cannot do anything to reduce the suffering. Studies show that compassion “warms up” the neural circuitry of action, the inclination to help.

What is self-compassion? Self-compassion simply applies the wish and warmth of compassion to the one being – the one who wears your name tag.

What Self-compassion is not:

➢    Whining or self-pity

➢    Wallowing in misery or giving up

➢    Blaming

➢    Trying to get sympathy from others

➢    Avoiding responsibility

What are the benefits of self-compassion?

➢    Studies found that self-compassion weakened people’s reactions to negative events in ways that are more beneficial than self-esteem.

➢    Protects against stress

➢    Helps in the recovery from painful experiences

➢   Aids self-worth

➢   Improves performance after setbacks

➢   Develops more optimism & happiness

➢   Lessens depression & anger

What are the blocks to self-compassion?

➢   Fears it will make you weak,  complacent or selfish

➢   Habit of self-criticism

➢   Feeling you don’t deserve it

Self-guidance vs. Self-criticism

Self-guidance builds you up:

➢    Faces moral faults with appropriate guilt or remorse

➢    Focuses on where you could be more skillful

➢    Strives toward a positive and future-focused solution

Self-criticism tears you down:

➢    Exaggerates faults, guilt and remorse

➢    Focuses on where you messed up

➢    Points to the negative and past-focused problem

Why you deserve self-compassion? All beings deserve compassion – including you. You should offer the most compassion toward the person you have the most power over – your future self.

How can we practice self-compassion?

Develop the sense of being cared about by others. Also practice compassion for others. Knowing what the wish and the feeling of compassion are like, apply this compassion toward yourself.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

that’s how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen, poet


A young woman who was worried about her habit of biting her fingernails was advised by a friend to take up yoga. She did, and soon her fingernails were growing normally. Her friend asked her if yoga had totally cured her nervousness. “No,” she replied, “but now I can reach my toe-nails so I bite them instead.”