Based on her experience during the pandemic psychologist Sara Dunne, observed on the BBC website recently that people who have high levels of self compassion are ‘Generally more proactive and by treating themselves kindly, will recognise what is best for them.’
Separately, another Psychologist, Kristin Neff, has found that during the pandemic ‘For many of us, the struggles of isolation, remote working and caring for the people we love have provided the perfect breeding ground for self-criticism and doubt. While we cannot eliminate those stresses, we can at least change the way we view ourselves, giving us the resilience to face the challenges head on.’
Self-compassion, it seems, can create a sense of safety that helps us to confront our weaknesses and change the way we view ourselves by making positive changes in our lives.
‘The way we view ourselves.’ That phrase brought the subject of an article I published here in December which began with this question…’When you make a mistake or get something wrong at work do you acknowledge to yourself that it happened, learn from it and move on or do you experience an overwhelming surge of negative feelings about yourself that go round and round in your head for days, months, even years?
Some people can get through these untidy parts of life and take them in their stride. Others experience pain and pick it over inside their heads in excruciating detail.
A toxic blend of fear, guilt, embarrassment and self criticism brings our worst doubts to the surface …’how could I be so stupid?’ ‘why did I say that?’ It’s physically painful and emotionally damaging.
Or maybe we don’t even go as far as talking out our painful reaction with ourselves…we just feel the pain in our minds.
Self Compassion can create a helpful self talk that we will actually listen to and act on to change that self defeating mind set and find our authentic self. It’s about being kind to ourselves
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?
If we’re beating ourselves up and allowing feelings of guilt and remorse to get out of hand , if you notice that kind of overwhelming reaction of fear and despair happening regularly, you may find that, unless you deal with it, you could be setting yourself up to build a mindset which casts you as a helpless victim and that life is unfair so there’s nothing that can be done about it . If you recognise that state of mind then the pain which that self image is causing you may have an enormously negative impact on the way you see yourself…possibly for life.
The way you deal with life becomes permanently negative …low self-esteem, low expectations and distrust of others and having to handle all of that pain on top of the everyday pressure of our lives, can push us in some very unhelpful directions.
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY
It is possible to confront and change feelings of guilt and remorse and react to mistakes in a helpful.
These steps may help…
Become aware of those unhelpful negative thoughts. Say something in your head to make yourself conscious of them when they come up. Interrupt your self accusing thoughts. Just stop them right there.
In your mind, step back from whatever it is that you are beating yourself about. Unhook your mind from the pain of it.
Now in your mind, imagine that you’re turning away from that situation and you’re walking forward feeling calm and saying something like ‘what just happened there, It’s behind me.’ It’s done and in the past.
When you have taken time to let that thought sink in decide if there is any rectifying action you can take and plan it … what to say, what to do and put it right.
Allow yourself to feel good about that
If these feelings of self recrimination persist, maybe allow yourself to have a thought about something that’s a strength. Your ‘Management’ role for example, or your ‘Friendship’ role or your ‘Parenting’ role.
That’s Self Compassion.