When you think of February, what comes to mind – chocolate and Valentine’s Day? We conjured up all these images during our Mission: Mindfulness session last month that focused on practices around building compassion.
When we talk about compassion, we talk about what it means to be more understanding and less judgmental toward others. It is a genuine attempt to understand the suffering of another being, and to respond with warmth and care. The benefits of compassion can be seen in both everyday life as well as in the workplace, and include a buffer against stress, increased happiness and social connectedness and employee retention, to name a few. But what about directing these practices toward ourselves?
Toward ourselves, like “self-care” you might ask? This phrase tends to bring things to mind like bubble baths, massages, lighting some candles and drinking tea. These are all beautiful and healthy practices, but we are talking about something a little different. Kristen Neff sums it up perfectly by saying “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings — after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”
Self-compassion is not easy, and it is not always fun. Accepting that we are humans, who will suffer, fail, and feel inadequate, is important. These are not feelings that we should try to suppress. If we don’t give compassion to ourselves, how can we expect to be compassionate toward others with whom we interact? Layering the practice of mindfulness into the mix allows us to be aware of our feelings, whether they are good or bad, and experience them without judgment.
Need some ideas on how to practice mindful self-compassion? Check out Kristen Neff’s website for some guided meditations and exercises. We will keep sharing ideas like these throughout the month following each Mission: Mindfulness session. Join us Wednesday March 7th for the next one, based on the theme , “Exploring Emotions,” and you’ll get access to multiple tips and exercises each week. You can register for this session here. Keep a look out for our next blog post on emotions at the end of March!