Source: Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
Self-judgment is the opposite of self-compassion. With self-compassion, according to Dr. Kristin Neff, a widely recognized world’s leading expert on self-compassion, we “Give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.”
According to Dr. Neff, compassion, as opposed to mere pity, means to realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection are part of our human experience. But to understand compassion, first, kindness needs to be considered. Compassion alludes to kindness.
To err is human. Jesus was a man, a man who lived here on earth, breathed our air and felt our pain. He embraced all the attributes of God; and he had compassion for his people.
We are moved to speak of a Savior who suffered for the world, giving his life to for us because he was moved to compassion. His gift of salvation, lovingly moves us to live and act compassionately.
However, when we find ourselves in situations that cause us anger or stress, and these incite us to lose control over our words or actions, it is possible to react to situations without thinking. Unfortunately, a quick reaction can lead to mistakes. Wanting to justify our lack of control or weakness, we quickly judge others or others and / or blame ourselves or others.
At any moment, we can all experience distressing moments and we can end up not only suffering a lot but criticizing others and / or ourselves even more harshly.
However, the good news is that self-compassion can help us and others in many ways.
First, to practice self-compassion, you have to be kind to yourself. Acting kindly and understandingly toward yourself means having the confidence to say to yourself, “It’s okay that I made a mistake, but I know I did my best and I won’t judge myself harshly for it.”
Intentionally find ways to be kind to yourself. When you feel like you’ve failed, seek the warmth and support of your own inner voice. Most likely, you need to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit. Start a short sentence focusing on using affirmative words.
Other common ways to be kind to yourself include spending time with yourself. Every now and then, spend some time doing something that brings health and joy, such as hobbies.
Hobbies give people a chance to decompress and relax. Hobbies allow us to free ourselves from stress while remaining mentally productive. According to the Mayo Clinic, having hobbies promotes better health and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Be intentionally careful to provide the same care and kindness that you would give to others and extend it to yourself. Whenever you run into frustrations, failures, and … fill in the blank, forgive yourself first.
When we fail, we quickly judge ourselves. Self-judgment is the opposite of self-compassion. Self-compassion, remember, begins with kindness to yourself. As Christians, when we fail and make mistakes, God forgives us. Likewise, God calls us to forgive others and to treat others as we would treat ourselves. How are you treating yourself? How are you treating others? Do these two agree? Are you treating yourself and others with compassion and kindness?
To forgive yourself, mental health counselors recommend that their clients focus on acknowledging the present emotions. They also encourage clients to acknowledge the mistake and then rephrase it out loud as a learning experience. One element to keep in mind is realizing self-criticism and replacing it with objective self-recognition.
Another aspect of self-compassion is applying it to ourselves as if we are our own good friends. The common consensus states that it is good to have friends, especially those who encourage you, do not blame you, and affirmatively restore you.
A cross-sectional study of 271,053 adults, published in early 2017 by Michigan State University, revealed that valuing friendships was related to better health and well-being throughout life. It is good to have good friends who build you up and with whom you share joy; Likewise, it is important to be good friends with ourselves.
Even more, however, is being good friends of our Jesus, “I have called you friends,” Jesus said (John 15:15). He who understands how wonderfully we were made (Psalm 139: 14). Jesus was sensitive to the needs of all people. Let us also be sensitive to our needs and the needs of others. He practiced self-compassion. In being compassionate towards yourself, you will increase your chances of becoming even more compassionate towards others.
Loving gift of self-compassion.