The act of self-compassion and the power of surrendering to what is
During times of stress and adversity it can be far too easy to become our own enemy inflicting even more pain and hurt by being unkind to ourselves. The effects of an external stressor can be magnified by thinking negatively exasperating feelings such as guilt, hopelessness, anxiety and sadness. Whether those unexpected life curveballs relate to matters of our heart, career or health we go through a process of change which can be challenging and feel devastating. Focusing on ourselves and practising acts of self-compassion and acceptance can help and support us on this journey.
To have true self-compassion can be equated to self-respect and an alignment to connection and meaning. Most of us have been in a situation where we feel as though life just isn’t going our way, which may enable feelings of fear and worthlessness, triggering a temporary loss of meaning and a sense of disconnection resulting in negative cognitive and behavioural patterns. In these situations, it's important for our own well-being to take responsibility of ourselves and muster that inner strength to re-focus our energy on ourselves; to replace self-sabotage with self-compassion. The simple act of being kind to ourselves mentally and physically can have transformative lasting effects during times of trauma or stress.
Everyone has different approaches to self-compassion and self-nourishment - have a think about what you’d do to be kinder to yourself. I’ve listed a few examples below that I personally find helpful:
- Practise mindfulness - recognise what’s going on, allow the experience to be there just as it is, investigate it with kindness and allow it to sit in your natural awareness without identifying with it. In Victor Frankl's words: “Between the stimulus and the response there is a space, and in this space lies our power and our freedom.”
- Stimulate the mind-body connection and facilitate healing through the power of the breath and the art of movement for example by practising yoga and meditation.
- Your body is your temple, treat it with the respect it deserves by maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
- Try journalling - it can be a great tonic during life’s challenges.
- Treat yourself to a relaxing treatment like a massage or reflexology.
The act of surrendering is a powerful tool to self-compassion. We’ve all been subjected to non-changeable, stress-inducing, sometimes life-changing situations and, rather than surrendering to what is, we’re often guilty of experiencing waves of self-doubt, self-criticism and self-blame fuelling feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment and frustration. We end up living in a destructive cycle of pain, identifying with and becoming a victim of our own story, which can have detrimental effects on our well-being and inhibit us from joyously interacting with life. Through the power of acceptance we can start to come to terms with the challenges we’re facing; by letting go of what’s happened and fully accepting what is we can invoke a sense of peace and harmony both internally and externally. Acceptance is a state of balance, and through the process of surrendering we can shift our focus and energy to what is in order to facilitate a healthier mind and body.
Be kind to yourself!