In a world so readily available, so well connected, it is easy to neglect what it is that we actually need. Whilst many people are able to turn their compassion outwards, we tend to find it harder to giver ourselves the care and attention required in order to thrive. Paul Gilbert, one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, suggests two key parts: noticing and engaging in our distress, and taking wise action to reduce this.
Possibly the most positive effect of self-compassion is on mental health and wellbeing. It can be difficult to allow oneself to feel self-compassion when it is often mistakenly linked to self-pity, especially after a traumatic experience. Therapists are, however, focussing more on this area, as the results speak for themselves. When self-compassion is present, it can be much easier to face and deal with unhappy or traumatic memories, as well as life circumstances.
There are a number of practical steps you can take from your own home, such as self-exploration through writing, keeping a self-compassion journal, taking care of the caregiver, or embarking on a journey of recovery by referring yourself to Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT). At Balanced Minds, for example, we offer therapy and counselling in London and Edinburgh, and online. Booking a session with us is as easy as filling out our online booking form. We also offer a short, online evidenced based self-compassion course that can be access here.
Self-compassion and self-kindness can positively impact on so many aspects of our life, helping us to manage difficulties that we face and improve our relationships with others. Separating the idea of self-compassion from common myths about it (e.g. that it’s selfish or like self-pity) can be an integral first step, acknowledging that regardless of feelings of guilt and shame, we can learn to change the type of relationship with ourselves in order to become our best self. Whether that starts in counselling out of our centres in Edinburgh and London, or through one of the other steps looked at above, give yourself the physical and mental room to be more compassionate to yourself.