In my opinion compassion is the recognition of pain with the desire to relieve it, which can be given to myself as well as to others.
Compassion for yourself is is fundamental, since if you don't care how you feel and want to do something about it, it becomes harder to make an effort to become happier and more resilient. Compassion is both soft and muscular. Studies show that when people feel compassion, motor planning areas in the brain begin to prepare for action.
Compassion is a psychological resource, an inner strength.
Be For You
Who's the one person you can affect the most?
Both you in this moment and and in your future. The person you will be in the next minute, week, or year. If you think of yourself as someone to whom you have a duty of care and kindness, what might change in how you talk to yourself, and how you go about your day?
Being good to yourself means, it will be good for others around you. When people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative, and caring in their relationships. Think about how it would benefit others if you felt less stressed, worried, or irritated, and more peaceful, contented, and loving.
Everytime I focus on myself I feel the feeling of positivity and these experiences become more and more evident the more I do it, it's like working a muscle and strengthening it, again and again. With repetition, kindness and encouragement for myself gradually sank in and became a natural way of being.
Giving compassion lowers stress and calms your body. receiving compassion makes you stronger, more able to take a breath, find your footing, and keep it going.
You get the benefits of both giving and receiving compassion when you offer it to yourself. Much as you can see the burdens and stresses of others, you can recognise these same things in yourself. Much as you can feel moved by their suffering, you can be touched by your own. You can bring the same support to yourself that you would provide to someone else. And if there is not much compassion for you coming from others, it is more important than ever to give it to yourself.
Compassion for yourself doesn't mean you are moaning, whining or wallowing in misery, it means this is where you start, NOT WHERE YOU STOP!
Research by Kristin Neff and others has shown that self-compassion makes a person more resilient, more able to bounce back. It lowers self-criticism and builds self worth.
We all suffer, we all face hard times, everyone has issues and faces very difficult times. As Leonard Cohen sang" "There is a crack in everything - That is how the light gets in." We are all cracked, we all need compassion.
How Do We Learn Compassion?
We learn many things in life, including how to ride a bike, say sorry to someone, how to drive, etc. What does it take for learning to happen? In my experience the most important part of learning is repetition, repetition turns into lasting changes in neural structure or function.
To learn compassion, repeat it daily and it will become part of you, I promise you that.
Acceptance can sit alongside other reactions. As an example you might be really annoyed with a current situation in your life but if you accept that is just a reality you are not being complacent or giving up, we can accept something while at the same time trying to make it better.
If you are stuck in traffic, what is the point in moaning, if you accept that is just the reality, it will improve the way you are feeling, but if you try to push these feelings away you would add stress to an already stressful situation and this will only make you feel worse.
Sometimes it takes real skill to nudge thoughts and feelings in a healthier, happier direction, trust me, I am still working hard on this skill! LOL
I believe we need to accept what is true about ourselves, we can then see things more clearly and we can then deal with it in a better way.
The whole self is like a big house and not accepting all of who we are is like closing up some of the rooms in the house: It's like saying Uh-oh, I can't look vulnerable here, let's just shut this door!
Just imagine what it would be like to open all the doors inside yourself, you can still keep an eye on what lies inside the rooms, and decide what you act upon or show the world. Accepting what is inside yourself gives you more influence over it, not less.
Enjoyable experiences lower stress hormones, strengthens the immune system, and helps us settled back down if we have gotten worried or frustrated.
As enjoyment increases so does the activity of a key neurochemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and natural opioids. If you want to become more motivated about about certain things, such as exercise, eating healthy foods, focus on the part that is most enjoyable, this will naturally draw you to doing it more often. If you hate broccoli, don't eat it, if you love bread eat it, just don't over do it! If you hate the gym don't go, if you love swimming, do it more often.
Enjoying life is a powerful way to care for yourself. think about some of the things you enjoy, for me I love drinking coffee, going for walks, reading, weight training, sleeping, spending time with my wife, eating amazing food, etc...
What is on your list?
Don't think so much about the million dollar moments, but the small real opportunities for enjoyment present in even the toughest times, it doesn't matter what is happening outside of you, you can always find something to enjoy inside your mind.
These small ways that you find to enjoy life, contain a big lesson. It's usually the little things adding up over time that make the largest difference.
"If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves."
What is the most important minute in your life? in my opinion it is the next one, there is nothing we can do about the past, and we have limited influence over the hours and days to come, but the next minute, after minute, after minute, is always full of possibility.
The above was inspired by a conversation with my new client Hussein this morning, hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.