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Why Self-Compassion is Your Superpower

Learn three simple ways to cultivate self-compassion to unhook from unhelpful thoughts that can distress and disempower us.

We'll have a voice in our head, a voice that talks to us all day long in the form of constant thoughts. This voice raises doubts, fears, and questions about the way we're living our lives. Sometimes the voice is really insightful. It alerts us to something helpful that we can do to achieve our goals or solve problems. But more often than not, this inner voice is more like an inner critic.

It says things that are harsh, mean, unkind, making us feel unworthy, afraid, or unhappy. And this voice can create immense amounts of suffering when it calls us names like idiot, loser or useless. One of the things that's problematic is that sometimes when life is at its hardest, or we're overwhelmed or stressed, our inner critic goes into overdrive, bringing even more suffering to an already difficult time. I'd like to share a, a personal experience with you to give you an idea of what I mean. But first I want to talk briefly about the three emotional regulation systems that we have, as this is really going to help you to see how the inner critic can get us into trouble when it gets us caught up in stress and suffering.

So thanks to evolution, every single one of us has three emotional regulation systems that continue to have a significant influence over our thoughts and behaviors. The first system is called the threat system. The threat system is designed to protect you from harm. It's our fight, flight or flee response. And it's designed to keep you out of harm's way.

Keep you away from threatened danger. This system is often attributed the color red. We also have the drive system. The drive system is a system that gets you moving towards seeking food, sex, shelter. It motivates you to pursue goals.

And this system is often given the color blue or called the blue zone. Then we have the soothing system. The system of contentment, rest and connection. When this system is activated, you can connect with the people around you. You can play.

You can rest. You can be at ease. It helps you feel safe, loved, and protected. The soothing system is the green zone. So keeping in mind, these three emotional regulation systems, here's a story I'd like to share.

Recently, I was asked to do a really demanding job. I had to do a lot of writing, a lot of content creation, and I was asked to do it really quickly. Now I got halfway through this task, but then I found the voice in my head starting to get really critical, saying really unhelpful and unkind things. Like, you know, maybe you can't do this. You're not a real writer.

You don't know what you're doing. Who do you think you are trying this? It really started to play on my insecurities by saying things like you're about to really put yourself out there in a big way. You could embarrass yourself. People might hate your work. And all of these thoughts brought in self doubt.

I began to experience what they call imposter syndrome. I started to worry about my ability to actually deliver on this really important project, something I was really passionate about. I noticed that as these critical thoughts became louder and louder, as the anxiety rose up inside me, my stress response kicked in and I got tricked into that threat system. I went into the red zone. I felt anxious, overwhelmed, and these feelings started to stifle my creativity.

And so I really started to find it harder and harder to focus. It's hard to focus properly when you're in the red zone. It wasn't designed for that. The red zone is not designed for that kind of focus. Now, lucky me, I started to notice what was happening.

I started to notice the impact that this critical inner voice was having on me and how it was making me feel powerless, frustrated, upset, and overwhelmed as I stared helplessly at my computer. And, you know, I had to stop and walk away from my desk one day, because I found myself plagued by these inner thoughts. So what I did was this, when I noticed the impact of those critical thoughts, I paused, I placed a hand over my heart and I did a short practice of self-compassion. I gently spoke words to myself in a kind and soothing mental voice, acknowledging what was happening for me. So the first thing I said to myself mentally was, this is a moment of stress.

We all get stressed sometimes. May I be kind to myself in this moment. And I repeated these phrases. May I be kind to myself. May I be gentle to myself.

I kept repeating these kind phrases for about one to two minutes, as I, you know, gently kept my hand on my heart. And after a couple of minutes, I felt my whole nervous system start to feel soothed and relaxed. I reminded myself that it's quite normal to feel a little bit anxious about putting yourself out there. The self-compassion practice had untangled me from the thoughts in my head that were critical, harsh, and mean, and brought me back to my center, back to presence, back to calm and clarity and the connection of the green zone. When we talk to ourselves mentally in a harsh, mean and critical way, it is actually perceived as a threat and it pushes us into the red zone.

Think about it. If somebody was walking behind you saying really nasty things and calling you names and putting you down, it's not nice. It feels threatening. It creates tension and stress. Unfortunately, for so many of us, when things are already hard, that inner critic revs up and tries to whip us into shape or push us around.

And that's what happened to me. Self-compassion, however, engages our soothing system, which is why I did that short practice to bring me back into my green zone and out of distress. Do you remember when you were young? And if you hurt yourself or you were really frightened in the red zone, how instinctive it was for your parents or carers to wrap their arms around you, giving you soft cuddles or a soothing touch, maybe, maybe like a pat on the back and started to say gentle, compassionate words like, it's okay, sweetheart. I'm here. Everything's going to be okay.

And do you remember how soothing and centering it was for you? How your whole nervous system settled back into the green zone? Well, we can give the same thing to ourselves when we're in any distress at all. You can use that kind inner voice to soften the inner critic so that it loses power over you. You can use self-compassion in any difficult time at all. Once I gave myself self-compassion and I was in the green zone instead. Again, in that calm, clear space.

And I regained my focus, my passion and my presence. In the end, I got everything that I needed to get done done, and I enjoyed the process. Many people believe that if they don't crack the whip on themselves with harsh self-talk, they won't be motivated to make changes and achieve goals. But the research shows just the opposite. Self-limiting or self-destructive thought processes like that really critical inner voice, they really diminish our motivation and initiative, whereas self-compassion and kindness have been shown to increase them.

When we learn to be kinder to ourselves, we also become more resilient to the challenges of life and stress. We become more productive and we're more able to overcome bad habits and addictions and have more fulfilling relationships. In the end, so what self-compassion really gives us is just a more joyful, more easeful way to live. So here are three, really simple ways that you can start to develop self-compassion and be kind to yourself from today on. The first thing is to soften that inner voice.

A way that we speak to ourselves in our own heads can often have a very harsh and cold tone to it, especially if something's gone wrong or we made a mistake. See if you can start practicing self-talk that sounds warm, friendly and kind. Let your inner voice take on the tone of a supportive friend or coach. And if you catch yourself sounding harsh, see if you can just take a pause and change that tone of the inner voice back to a warm and kind and supportive voice. So, you can say kind and encouraging things to yourself, like, you know, good on you for giving that a go honey, or, that was a very kind honest, good thing you did there, or, Hey, it's all okay.

Just soothing things. And if, if you don't find terms of endearment like honey useful, then of course just drop them. Just to find your own way with this practice, especially when you're having a hard time. Try to use kindness in your inner tone, as if the same kind of time that you would use. If you were speaking to a loved one who was hurting.

Yeah, saying really soothing and kind things to yourself. The second thing that you can do to cultivate self-compassion is to do things that nourish you. Like what are the things that nourish you in life? You know, what are the things that recharge your batteries, relax or rejuvenate you? The things that light you up, bring you joy, feed the soul? You know, some examples of nourishing things are things like yoga, going for a walk, having a rest, a cup of tea, and gardening, or your hobbies spending a little bit of time with a pet or a loved one, taking a nap. You know, so often, we get caught up in the headlong rush of daily life. And we don't allow ourselves the time to just enjoy ourselves and restore our energy.

So what can you do today? You know, this week, this month to nourish yourself? It could be the simplest thing, like just taking a 15 minute break at work, going for a walk in the afternoon, or participating in a hobby that you love. The invitation here is instead of always pushing yourself, can you also make time to care for yourself and enjoy yourself. And yes, you deserve it. Okay. The third thing is to be self compassionate, especially in moments of pain and distress.

When the demands of our lives stretch us to our limits, when we feel grief, heartbreak, or we're overcome with anxiety, depression, or hopelessness, often, what we do is we struggle and fight against ourselves and our feeling. And it's like drowning in quicksand. We only, when we struggle, we only add more suffering to an already difficult time. And this is when we need kindness towards ourselves the most. Here's the kinder way through.

It's called a self-compassion break. This is what I did for myself on the day that I spoke of. And it can be done in three or four simple steps that take under a minute, once you're familiar with it. When you have a situation in your life that's really challenging, painful, or causing you distress, just take a pause for a moment, tune into your body. And the first thing you want to do is see if you can locate and feel into wherever you feel the physical sensations of the emotion in your body.

And here's the practice and you can try this right now. Step one is to bring mindful acceptance to what's happening. So by doing this, we can begin to let go of hardening against or struggling with what's happening. So step one is to say to yourself, mentally or out loud, if you want to, this is a moment of suffering. Or if it's stress, you're feeling, this is a moment of stress.

Or if it's sadness, you're feeling, you'd say this is a moment of sadness. So you're acknowledging what's happening for you in a kind and really loving mental tone. The second step is about realizing our common humanity and really normalizing the experience of having a difficult time or difficult feelings, because we all do sometimes. It's part of being human. So there's no need for us to feel so alone in our experience of distress.

So the second part of this practice is to say to yourself, again, mentally or out loud, if you want to, this suffering is a part of life. I'm not alone in this. The third step is offering yourself compassion and soothing. This is a difficult moment, so we want to give kindness to ourselves in the midst of our pain. So for this step, you want to place a hand over your heart as a gesture of self-compassion, if that feels okay for you.

And then you say to yourself mentally the third phrase, which is, may I be kind to myself in this moment. The fourth step is an optional extra step. So here you can ask yourself, what do I need right now to express kindness to myself. So it could be, the answer might be something as simple as, I can just, I need to slow down and breathe a little bit right now. Or, you know, what I really need is to take a warm bath, to call a friend, to go for a walk in nature, to meditate.

Who knows what your answer will be in that time, but the step, this step is more than anything about inviting yourself to see if there's any nourishing actions that you could take to bring yourself that kindness. Self-compassion really is a superpower because it helps us to unhook from the unhelpful thoughts. It can make us distressed or disempower us. Self-compassion can bring us back to the calm and clarity of mindfulness and transform pain into peace. Over time, the benefits of self-compassion increase and it can bring deep healing to old wounds and transform your inner world into a warm, soothing, and compassionate home.

Talk

4.8

Why Self-Compassion is Your Superpower

Learn three simple ways to cultivate self-compassion to unhook from unhelpful thoughts that can distress and disempower us.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

We'll have a voice in our head, a voice that talks to us all day long in the form of constant thoughts. This voice raises doubts, fears, and questions about the way we're living our lives. Sometimes the voice is really insightful. It alerts us to something helpful that we can do to achieve our goals or solve problems. But more often than not, this inner voice is more like an inner critic.

It says things that are harsh, mean, unkind, making us feel unworthy, afraid, or unhappy. And this voice can create immense amounts of suffering when it calls us names like idiot, loser or useless. One of the things that's problematic is that sometimes when life is at its hardest, or we're overwhelmed or stressed, our inner critic goes into overdrive, bringing even more suffering to an already difficult time. I'd like to share a, a personal experience with you to give you an idea of what I mean. But first I want to talk briefly about the three emotional regulation systems that we have, as this is really going to help you to see how the inner critic can get us into trouble when it gets us caught up in stress and suffering.

So thanks to evolution, every single one of us has three emotional regulation systems that continue to have a significant influence over our thoughts and behaviors. The first system is called the threat system. The threat system is designed to protect you from harm. It's our fight, flight or flee response. And it's designed to keep you out of harm's way.

Keep you away from threatened danger. This system is often attributed the color red. We also have the drive system. The drive system is a system that gets you moving towards seeking food, sex, shelter. It motivates you to pursue goals.

And this system is often given the color blue or called the blue zone. Then we have the soothing system. The system of contentment, rest and connection. When this system is activated, you can connect with the people around you. You can play.

You can rest. You can be at ease. It helps you feel safe, loved, and protected. The soothing system is the green zone. So keeping in mind, these three emotional regulation systems, here's a story I'd like to share.

Recently, I was asked to do a really demanding job. I had to do a lot of writing, a lot of content creation, and I was asked to do it really quickly. Now I got halfway through this task, but then I found the voice in my head starting to get really critical, saying really unhelpful and unkind things. Like, you know, maybe you can't do this. You're not a real writer.

You don't know what you're doing. Who do you think you are trying this? It really started to play on my insecurities by saying things like you're about to really put yourself out there in a big way. You could embarrass yourself. People might hate your work. And all of these thoughts brought in self doubt.

I began to experience what they call imposter syndrome. I started to worry about my ability to actually deliver on this really important project, something I was really passionate about. I noticed that as these critical thoughts became louder and louder, as the anxiety rose up inside me, my stress response kicked in and I got tricked into that threat system. I went into the red zone. I felt anxious, overwhelmed, and these feelings started to stifle my creativity.

And so I really started to find it harder and harder to focus. It's hard to focus properly when you're in the red zone. It wasn't designed for that. The red zone is not designed for that kind of focus. Now, lucky me, I started to notice what was happening.

I started to notice the impact that this critical inner voice was having on me and how it was making me feel powerless, frustrated, upset, and overwhelmed as I stared helplessly at my computer. And, you know, I had to stop and walk away from my desk one day, because I found myself plagued by these inner thoughts. So what I did was this, when I noticed the impact of those critical thoughts, I paused, I placed a hand over my heart and I did a short practice of self-compassion. I gently spoke words to myself in a kind and soothing mental voice, acknowledging what was happening for me. So the first thing I said to myself mentally was, this is a moment of stress.

We all get stressed sometimes. May I be kind to myself in this moment. And I repeated these phrases. May I be kind to myself. May I be gentle to myself.

I kept repeating these kind phrases for about one to two minutes, as I, you know, gently kept my hand on my heart. And after a couple of minutes, I felt my whole nervous system start to feel soothed and relaxed. I reminded myself that it's quite normal to feel a little bit anxious about putting yourself out there. The self-compassion practice had untangled me from the thoughts in my head that were critical, harsh, and mean, and brought me back to my center, back to presence, back to calm and clarity and the connection of the green zone. When we talk to ourselves mentally in a harsh, mean and critical way, it is actually perceived as a threat and it pushes us into the red zone.

Think about it. If somebody was walking behind you saying really nasty things and calling you names and putting you down, it's not nice. It feels threatening. It creates tension and stress. Unfortunately, for so many of us, when things are already hard, that inner critic revs up and tries to whip us into shape or push us around.

And that's what happened to me. Self-compassion, however, engages our soothing system, which is why I did that short practice to bring me back into my green zone and out of distress. Do you remember when you were young? And if you hurt yourself or you were really frightened in the red zone, how instinctive it was for your parents or carers to wrap their arms around you, giving you soft cuddles or a soothing touch, maybe, maybe like a pat on the back and started to say gentle, compassionate words like, it's okay, sweetheart. I'm here. Everything's going to be okay.

And do you remember how soothing and centering it was for you? How your whole nervous system settled back into the green zone? Well, we can give the same thing to ourselves when we're in any distress at all. You can use that kind inner voice to soften the inner critic so that it loses power over you. You can use self-compassion in any difficult time at all. Once I gave myself self-compassion and I was in the green zone instead. Again, in that calm, clear space.

And I regained my focus, my passion and my presence. In the end, I got everything that I needed to get done done, and I enjoyed the process. Many people believe that if they don't crack the whip on themselves with harsh self-talk, they won't be motivated to make changes and achieve goals. But the research shows just the opposite. Self-limiting or self-destructive thought processes like that really critical inner voice, they really diminish our motivation and initiative, whereas self-compassion and kindness have been shown to increase them.

When we learn to be kinder to ourselves, we also become more resilient to the challenges of life and stress. We become more productive and we're more able to overcome bad habits and addictions and have more fulfilling relationships. In the end, so what self-compassion really gives us is just a more joyful, more easeful way to live. So here are three, really simple ways that you can start to develop self-compassion and be kind to yourself from today on. The first thing is to soften that inner voice.

A way that we speak to ourselves in our own heads can often have a very harsh and cold tone to it, especially if something's gone wrong or we made a mistake. See if you can start practicing self-talk that sounds warm, friendly and kind. Let your inner voice take on the tone of a supportive friend or coach. And if you catch yourself sounding harsh, see if you can just take a pause and change that tone of the inner voice back to a warm and kind and supportive voice. So, you can say kind and encouraging things to yourself, like, you know, good on you for giving that a go honey, or, that was a very kind honest, good thing you did there, or, Hey, it's all okay.

Just soothing things. And if, if you don't find terms of endearment like honey useful, then of course just drop them. Just to find your own way with this practice, especially when you're having a hard time. Try to use kindness in your inner tone, as if the same kind of time that you would use. If you were speaking to a loved one who was hurting.

Yeah, saying really soothing and kind things to yourself. The second thing that you can do to cultivate self-compassion is to do things that nourish you. Like what are the things that nourish you in life? You know, what are the things that recharge your batteries, relax or rejuvenate you? The things that light you up, bring you joy, feed the soul? You know, some examples of nourishing things are things like yoga, going for a walk, having a rest, a cup of tea, and gardening, or your hobbies spending a little bit of time with a pet or a loved one, taking a nap. You know, so often, we get caught up in the headlong rush of daily life. And we don't allow ourselves the time to just enjoy ourselves and restore our energy.

So what can you do today? You know, this week, this month to nourish yourself? It could be the simplest thing, like just taking a 15 minute break at work, going for a walk in the afternoon, or participating in a hobby that you love. The invitation here is instead of always pushing yourself, can you also make time to care for yourself and enjoy yourself. And yes, you deserve it. Okay. The third thing is to be self compassionate, especially in moments of pain and distress.

When the demands of our lives stretch us to our limits, when we feel grief, heartbreak, or we're overcome with anxiety, depression, or hopelessness, often, what we do is we struggle and fight against ourselves and our feeling. And it's like drowning in quicksand. We only, when we struggle, we only add more suffering to an already difficult time. And this is when we need kindness towards ourselves the most. Here's the kinder way through.

It's called a self-compassion break. This is what I did for myself on the day that I spoke of. And it can be done in three or four simple steps that take under a minute, once you're familiar with it. When you have a situation in your life that's really challenging, painful, or causing you distress, just take a pause for a moment, tune into your body. And the first thing you want to do is see if you can locate and feel into wherever you feel the physical sensations of the emotion in your body.

And here's the practice and you can try this right now. Step one is to bring mindful acceptance to what's happening. So by doing this, we can begin to let go of hardening against or struggling with what's happening. So step one is to say to yourself, mentally or out loud, if you want to, this is a moment of suffering. Or if it's stress, you're feeling, this is a moment of stress.

Or if it's sadness, you're feeling, you'd say this is a moment of sadness. So you're acknowledging what's happening for you in a kind and really loving mental tone. The second step is about realizing our common humanity and really normalizing the experience of having a difficult time or difficult feelings, because we all do sometimes. It's part of being human. So there's no need for us to feel so alone in our experience of distress.

So the second part of this practice is to say to yourself, again, mentally or out loud, if you want to, this suffering is a part of life. I'm not alone in this. The third step is offering yourself compassion and soothing. This is a difficult moment, so we want to give kindness to ourselves in the midst of our pain. So for this step, you want to place a hand over your heart as a gesture of self-compassion, if that feels okay for you.

And then you say to yourself mentally the third phrase, which is, may I be kind to myself in this moment. The fourth step is an optional extra step. So here you can ask yourself, what do I need right now to express kindness to myself. So it could be, the answer might be something as simple as, I can just, I need to slow down and breathe a little bit right now. Or, you know, what I really need is to take a warm bath, to call a friend, to go for a walk in nature, to meditate.

Who knows what your answer will be in that time, but the step, this step is more than anything about inviting yourself to see if there's any nourishing actions that you could take to bring yourself that kindness. Self-compassion really is a superpower because it helps us to unhook from the unhelpful thoughts. It can make us distressed or disempower us. Self-compassion can bring us back to the calm and clarity of mindfulness and transform pain into peace. Over time, the benefits of self-compassion increase and it can bring deep healing to old wounds and transform your inner world into a warm, soothing, and compassionate home.

Talk

4.8

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