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By: Nikita PaddockPublished On: August 19, 2022
Mindful Self-Compassion is the key to unlocking inner resilience. Rather than controlling the external situations in our lives, the practice allows us to shift how we view a situation, which results in the improvement of our relationship with it. Mindful self-compassion is a powerful tool we can use to build resilience from the inside out. This is important because the outside circumstances in life regularly come to us unexpectedly. We are likely to encounter unanticipated stress on a daily basis. When we build inner resilience, we can confidently and competently show up in life, even when things are challenging.
Acting from integrity is essential if we want to be an ethical, harmonious, and productive collective. This means that the aspects of life that draw us away from integrity must be seen and made explicit in order to change them. This could mean changing inhumane systems, structures, and policies, or just changing the way we breathe, eat, and speak to be more supportive to our human nature. Integrity requires being in touch with our truth while also understanding our blind spots or the incongruencies we have with someone else’s truth. Rather than justifying the actions we take that drive us further away from our integrity, we can address any discomfort or incongruence that arises for us with mindful self-compassion. This gives us the space to identify where and how we might be straying from our integrity. From a place of awareness, we can take appropriate action, or explore the questions that arise to obtain a deeper understanding of the situation.
“When we feel bad, we often automatically decide that either we are bad or another person is bad. Both of these moves cause damage and distort the truth, which is that we are all navigating difficult conditions the best we can, and we all have a lot to learn and unlearn.”
Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis
To create a collaborative, healthy, and harmonious collective, the practice of mindful self-compassion can promote healthy relationships with oneself and others while encouraging widespread ethical action.
There are three key components that make up the practice of Mindful Self-Compassion. These include:
There are many ways to practice the components of mindful self-compassion and they all need varying levels of attention throughout the life of the practitioner. For those ready to embark on the journey of practicing Mindful Self-Compassion, it is beneficial to understand the components and to find practices to explore. Guided practices from the self-compassion expert, Dr. Kristin Neff can be found on the Mindful Self-Compassion website here. When exploring practices, try a variety and identify a few that work for you during this time in your life.
Mindful Self-Compassion is a practice that deepens over time and use.
Shift your inner dialogue from self-criticism to self-kindness. This component sounds simple, but since it is countering the innate instinct of the limbic system in our brains wired to keep us safe, it requires consistent and continuous time and practice. The desire we have to fix what is wrong for safety is included in our biological blueprint. Since this desire creates a negativity bias in our brains, it encourages us see the world, and likely ourselves, in a critical way. Being overly critical of ourselves has a negative impact when it exceeds the brain’s original goal to promote survival, and instead causes stress, anxiety, and other issues.
When we speak to ourselves with self-kindness, we open the door to enjoying life, allowing new opportunities to be explored, and understanding others. Shifting from self-criticism to self-kindness is a constant practice and requires mindfulness around the inner dialogue. Meditation, thought journaling, and working with a professional therapist can be beneficial in this process. It can also be practiced independently throughout the day by asking yourself, “In this moment, can I be kind to myself with my thoughts?”
Remembering our common humanity rather than isolating ourselves is an important step in the practice of mindful self-compassion. When we recall the facts of being human, we remember that everyone makes mistakes, nobody is perfect, and all humans experience suffering. By remembering that the painful or challenging experiences we have are the experiences of being human, we can decrease the guilt and shame that increases when we view ourselves as alone in suffering. When we remember our common humanity, we can also use our experiences to help and to connect with others that may be experiencing something similar. Remembering our common humanity promotes deep connection and a more resilient collective while preventing, or decreasing shame, guilt, and isolation.
Replace over-identification with mindfulness. This component requires an open perspective. Because the practice of mindfulness requires accepting things as they are, this step can challenge the mind that wants to solve all of the problems that arise in the thoughts when emotions are experienced. As human beings, we experience a variety of emotions and pain, but when we over-identify with them, we can get caught up in negativity, reactivity, and action. Mindfulness requires us to sit with what is arising and to allow it to come and go. It can be helpful to identify the arising emotion and allow it to pass over by saying something such as “I see pain is here.” While also focussing on the breath as an anchor for the mind. Working with a mindful self-compassion facilitator can assist this process.
Practicing mindful self-compassion can take a variety of forms including formal and informal practices. Formal practices including seated meditation and working with a teacher are important, but informal practices such as monitoring your thoughts and moving into self-kindness, using gentle touch (putting your hand on your heart or holding your own hand), or adopting a soothing mantra (“may I feel peace”) can be done anytime throughout the day. Practicing with consistency creates profound changes in the practitioner's inner and outer life.
Mindful self-compassion is an ever-evolving practice that builds an inner resilience capable of changing the individuals who practice, as well as creating a more compassionate collective. By using the accessible practices of kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness, one can develop a more harmonious way of living in relationship to themselves, others, and the world. The three components practiced over time are likely to create transformational healing and promote new perspectives.
Additional resources and training can be found at: https://self-compassion.org/the-research/
Written by: Nikita Paddock, BScN, RYT, Mindfulness Instructor
The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.