Mindful Self-Compassion

This is one of the most powerful Youtube video’s I have ever seen!

In this video, a group of women is asked to write down comments they make to themselves about their bodies during the day. Two actresses then repeat these comments, in public, to each other, to the distress of the unsuspecting women sitting nearby. Several interrupt the actresses, to object at the way they speak to each other…but this IS the way we speak to ourselves, every day. We can not bear to hear this said out loud, to another woman, but we persist in berating ourselves mercilessly.

There is something seriously wrong here somewhere…

These days, we know all about the inner critic and we know that we should stop criticising ourselves, but we continue to do it, no matter how many talks on self-esteem we listen to.

I recently discovered MSC ( mindful self-compassion ) developed by Christopher K. Germer, PhD, a leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy (MindfulSelfCompassion.org) and Kristin Neff, PhD, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion (Self-Compassion.org). This approach appeals to me, not in the least because there is a solid body of research to back it up. (self-compassion.org/the-research/ ).

But what exactly is MSC? According to the developers, mindfulness is the first step in emotional healing—being able to turn toward and acknowledge our difficult thoughts and feelings (such as insecurity, hurt, frustration, confusion) with a spirit of openness and curiosity. Self-compassion involves responding to these difficult thoughts and feelings with kindness, empathy and understanding so that we soothe and comfort ourselves when we’re hurting.

This makes a lot of sense to me.

Dr Kristin Neff talks about self-esteem and self-compassion:

“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticising yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?” Dr Kirstin Neff

Kirstin Neff is the author of the book: Self-compassion – Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, an extraordinary book offers exercises and action plans for dealing with every emotionally debilitating struggle, be it parenting, weight loss, or any of the numerous trials of everyday living.sc

Extract from the book:
“Perhaps our behaviour becomes more understandable, however, when we remember that just like self-aggrandisement, self-criticism is a type of safety behaviour designed to ensure acceptance within the larger social group. Even though the alpha dog gets to eat first, the dog that shows his belly when snarled at still gets his share. He’s given a safe place in the pack even if it’s at the bottom of the pecking order. Self-criticism serves as a submissive behaviour because it allows us to abase ourselves before imaginary others who pronounce judgement over us—then reward our submission with a few crumbs from the table. When we are forced to admit our failings, we can appease our mental judges by acquiescing to their negative opinions of us.”

If you would like to find out more about my own views about mindful self-compassion, please consider buying my book, Mindfulness and Meditation Options. (available early 2016 from Amazon). The book covers mindfulness and meditation in detail. Each chapter starts with a letter from a potential workshop participant, explaining her personal problems. Each chapter offers a potential solution based on mindfulness and meditation. You may even recognise yourself in one of the letters!

I have also incorporated MSC into my Mindfulness Meditation with Horses Workshops.

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