Self-compassion, defined by Neff (2003a), has three components - self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. In my research I have discovered the crucial role that self-compassion plays when we want to change a certain behavior (for good). But in learning what self-compassion really meant, I realized that learning how to speak my truth was essential to learning self-kindness. And before I could teach it to anybody else, I had to teach it to myself. Here’s why:
The scary truth
The thing is, the truth can be absolutely horrifying. Usually the truth is something you value and want to express but fear that in someway it will not be accepted or taken properly. Why? because the truth is a true expression of self and the ability to stand in your own power. The truth is scary precisely because the real essence of truth relies heavily on your own gut feel and intuition. (See 3 Ways to Sharpen Your Intuition)
Valuing your truths and practicing self-kindness
If I could earn a dollar for every person who has ever told me they could genuinely feel something but felt like they were crazy, I would be a millionaire. I noticed that listening to our gut feel and the absence of logic and reason has become such a scary thing that we have forgotten how to be truer to ourselves.
Often people who are in abusive relationships face this dilemma - they sense that something is wrong but struggle to speak up, walk away, or simply do something about the situation. They take and take and take because they have been given messages that they were worthless and what they have to say is unimportant. So they give less importance to their needs, thoughts, and feelings to make way for someone else’s.
It is a basic human need to be able to communicate to people and to be able to tell them what it is you value. Not only does relating to others help increase oxytocin levels, it also helps decrease the onset of depression. Valuing your truth, valuing your very gut feel, and honoring the needs of your soul are necessary in learning how to value yourself and learning self-compassion.
When was the last time you were kinder to yourself and accepted your own gut instinct? Practicing self-kindness begins with learning how to look at our thoughts and feelings with curiosity and acknowledging that they EXIST. It is important to note that when we acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, we are acknowledging that it is OKAY to feel and think the way we might currently be feeling and thinking. There is no such thing as a good or bad thought.
When I started mindfulness based cognitive therapy, I learned what it meant to really pay attention, acknowledge, and accept things as they came and went. If you have been reading the blog for awhile now you would know that I am an advocate of mindfulness and find this to be a very useful tool in helping develop self-compassion. Particularly, mindfulness helped me understand my gut feel better and helped me manage the impulses that often came with it.
Mindfulness, as defined by Kabat-Zinn (1979), is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment. When we learn how to pay attention, we learn how to sift. And when we learn how to sift, we learn how to create a hierarchy of the things we value. Mindfulness can help you do this.
Rise and speak up
Is there something that you’ve been wanting to say to someone that has been eating you up inside? What comes to mind as you read that question? Who comes to mind? And what is it that you really want to say?
One way of sifting through your thoughts and prioritizing your truths is by asking yourself the following questions:
1) Will this be good for my soul or my ego?
2) What are the needs of my ego?
3) What are the fears of my ego?
4) What are the needs of my soul?
If you find that it is essential to your very soul to express what has been sitting in your heart, then I dare you to rise and speak up. As I have written above, self expression is a basic human need. In addition, self-expression is tantamount to self-respect. It is valuing truth, loving yourself, and learning how to enjoy hearing your heart speak that makes speaking your truth so much more precious.
The Self-Compassion Revolution
So here’s a challenge for you: do one thing every day that scares you. Why? Because it will free your soul. When you acknowledge your intuition you acknowledge that there is more to you than just mind and body. The self-compassion revolution is all about stepping into our souls and learning how to address what it is we need to express in order to stand in our power.
Sending you all so much love from Tokyo,