Kristin Neff

Maybe It's Time For A Little Self-Compassion

*This blog was originally published in the Severna Park Voice.

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Everyone makes mistakes, but some of us continue to think about what we could have done better after the event. We beat ourselves up about small things. If you find that you are your own worst critic—harder on yourself than others—maybe it’s time to show a little self-compassion.

What Is Self-Compassion And Why Is It So Hard?

We seem to be able to offer others, even strangers, compassion when times are tough. Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves when we are struggling? Some people think, “If I’m not hard on myself, I will never get things done.” Others might say, “Self-compassion is self-indulgence, or selfishness.”

Many people think self-compassion means we give ourselves a pass for everything we do. That’s not it. Self-compassion means that we offer ourselves the same message of comfort and understanding that we might offer a friend who was going through the same thing.

Dr. Kristin Neff has done a lot of research and writing about self-compassion. She identified that self-compassion has three components: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. You can read more about her findings here.

The Argument For Self-Compassion

I’d argue that if we don’t take care of our own emotional well-being, we’ll have a hard time helping others when things get tough. If we are struggling emotionally, frustrated with ourselves, or constantly self-critical, it is very hard to give balanced support to someone else.

When we're overly critical of ourselves it can also increase our anxiety. Imagine a friend that always pointed out your faults, and told you you weren't enough, or worse that you were a failure. Imagine that friend was with you 24/7, constantly reminding you of things you could have done better, and that this was for your own good.

It might stress you out, or you might try to ignore them, or push them away but the bad feelings about yourself remain, because maybe a small part of you begins to believe what the constant criticism and that can make you feel very anxious.

Self-Kindness

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Self-kindness means that if we are feeling fearful, or sad, or we are questioning our behavior, we offer ourselves words of kindness, instead of criticism. When we imagine what we might say to a good friend who was suffering and then offer those same words to ourselves, we can acknowledge our discomfort and recognize that no one is perfect. This can help challenge our inner-critic, which can cause us to feel bad about ourselves, create anxiety, and keep us from taking chances or trying out new things.

Common Humanity

When times are tough—maybe you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or just having a bad day—if you can remind yourself that everyone has bad days, that everyone struggles, it can ease the intensity in that moment. When we ease the intensity, we can reduce the feelings of anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them
— Kristin Neff, PhD.

When rethinking a mistake, we can get stuck in the “what ifs,” or if onlys.” Learning to come back to the present moment, through mindful breathing and grounding techniques, we begin to understand that thoughts, feelings and behaviors all come and go. Instead of the constant worry about the past or future, we become accustomed to allowing what is. This can help reduce negative thinking, ruminating, self-blame and shame, because we learn not to over-identify with our feelings or thoughts.

How To Move Forward With Self-Compassion

Through self-compassion practice, we can begin to accept our imperfections, and to feel more connected with those around us, because we are all human, and humans struggle from time-to-time. We learn to accept the ups and downs in life as a part of our experience, instead of a reflection of who we are.

If you want to bring more self-compassion into your daily life I host mindfulness each Spring and Fall. You can find out about the groups here.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist, blogger,  creator and host of the Woman Worriers podcast, and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photo by gabrielle cole & Philipe Cavalcante on Unsplash

 

 

 

How To Make Self-Compassion A Part Of The New Year

Self-compassion can help counter self-criticism

Self-compassion can help counter self-criticism

In my Progression Counseling New Year blog  I wrote about creating intentions, instead of resolutions this year. And the practice of self-compassion is one intention that’s really helped me manage my anxiety over the last few years.

In my January blog post for Good Therapy, This Year, Resolve To Be Kinder To Yourself, I review the benefits and myths of self-compassion and I give some guidance on how to start a self-compassion practice.

Ask yourself, “Do you extend yourself the same kindness and compassion you would offer a friend? Why not?” You can find out here how self-compassion can help you to counter self-criticism

Here’s the direct link to the article:  https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/this-year-resolve-to-be-kinder-to-yourself-0105184

If you’d like to bring more mindfulness and self-compassion into your daily life please contact me. I offer group and individual therapy in Annapolis, MD.


Elizabeth Cush, LCPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose. If you'd like to know more about how individual and group therapy can help ease anxiety and stress call me 410-339-1979. 

Photo by Aki Tolentino on Unsplash

Spring: A Time To Cultivate And Grow Self-Compassion

Spring is A Season For New Beginnings

Self-compassion can ease anxiety

Budding trees, baby birds and blooming flowers come to mind when I think of spring. Commercials and the media tell us that spring is a time for weddings, new love, new growth and change.

Depression And Anxiety Make It Hard To Grow And Change

If you feel stuck, the changes spring brings can be a constant reminder of your immobility, which can bring on feelings of overwhelming anxiety and depression.

Maybe you feel stuck because:

  • You have no motivation.
  • The idea of change or growth makes you anxious or scared.
  • You feel you don’t have much to offer.
  • Making the first step feels overwhelming.
  • You feel disconnected or numb.
  • You yearn to connect with others but fear rejection.

Often, the apprehension or fears that keep us stuck stem from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. Then we feel bad about ourselves because we worry that we will never be able to move forward. The cycle spirals downward.

Let’s Make Spring A Time To Practice Self-Compassion

Instead of beating ourselves up for not making external changes, or not being the person we want to be, let’s make spring a time to change how we think about ourselves!


If we can learn to see ourselves with compassion, to embrace our imperfections and accept our fears, we can start to embrace differences in others. This can help open us up to the possibility of new connections. Tweet This


What is Self-Compassion?

Dr. Kristin Neff has done a lot of research and writing about self-compassion. She identified that self compassion has three components—self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. You can read more about her findings by CLICKING HERE.

Self-compassion can ease anxiety and stress

5 Steps To Help You Cultivate Self-Compassion

  1. If you make a mistake, remind yourself that none of us are perfect and say, “We all struggle from time-to-time.”
  2. Practice self-compassion and loving kindness meditations. You can access some of Dr. Neff’s has guided meditations HERE.
  3. When you feel anxious, place your hand on your heart and tell yourself, “I am here and I love you.”*
  4. Practice mindfulness. This helps you understand that although right now might be hard, life has ups and downs, and things will change.
  5. Imagine what someone close to you might say to you if he or she knew you were having a hard time.

*Sometimes saying loving statements to ourselves is difficult. If you find it too hard to do this, you can say, “I am here and my intention is to love you.”

 

If you would like help cultivating and growing your self-compassion, you can call me or email Progression Counseling, offices in Annapolis and Arnold.

If you want to know more about me you can CLICK HERE, or HERE .


Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC, is an Annapolis therapist helping people manage their stress and anxiety. Progression Counseling, offices in Arnold and Annapolis. 410-340-8469