With the beginning of a new year around the corner, it is natural to reflect on the ups, downs and everything in-between of the past year, while looking forward to the new possibilities that lay ahead. Quite often, much of our reflection about time gone by is clouded by feelings of inadequacy, self-judgement and regret. But what if we took a different approach with how we think about ourselves and our lives - a more compassionate approach.
Leading research psychologist, Dr. Kristin Neff, defines self-compassion as having three core components:
Self-Kindness - Being gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.
Recognition of our common humanity - Feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering.
Mindfulness - Holding our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it.
So how do we begin to incorporate these components of self-compassion into our daily lives when our inner-voice can be so harsh and judgmental? The first step is bringing awareness to this disparaging internal dialogue we have come to see as normal, and to begin reframing it with more positive and true statements and beliefs. Ask yourself,
“What would I tell a friend who had this thought/belief?”
“What would a friend say to me about this thought/belief?”
“Do I think these negative thoughts about people I care about?”
“Is this a fact or does is sound like a false belief?”
Becoming aware of the internal dialogue we have with ourselves and challenging the negative beliefs we seem to carry unconsciously, is a positive first step toward showing yourself the compassion you deserve. With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.
So my challenge to you as we embark on this busy holiday season and welcome 2024 is simple - What steps can you take to show yourself more compassion?
More information and resources can be found on this life-changing process in Dr. Kristin Neff’s book and at her website https://self-compassion.org.
Lucia Shanahan, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and believes strongly in giving children a voice and a providing a safe space to express themselves. Lucia can be reached at 805.626.8720 or by email at email@example.com.