We now know why to practice self-compassion. The more obvious question is, why don’t we?
I think the answer is that paradoxically, being kind to ourselves can elicit a bit of fear in us. Sounds counter-intuitive? Perhaps not when you consider that most of us have had past experiences in our lives which have caused a very strong negative emotional response. Subsequently, these experiences have left a strong emotional residue. We tend to live our lives, both consciously and subconsciously, in a way where we try to avoid re-visiting that negative emotional experience. This keeps us in a cycle of denialism. We build up muscles of emotional avoidance and ironically, end up limiting our control over our emotional experience.
Have you ever had seemingly irrational fears preventing you from taking opportunities offered to you? That’s your emotional governor kicking in. A past failure that led to shame or humiliation, will often cause you to experience fear when confronted with opportunity. Wouldn’t it be great to be free of this? Self-compassion is the first tool that we use to help free us from this self-imposed trap.
While some of the self-compassion exercises in this module focus on these past experiences, which can cause some initial discomfort, they enable us to view these experiences from a new perspective.
How can I develop self-compassion?
To develop self-compassion, one must learn to be kind to oneself and to be able to readily find a sense of common humanity. By recognizing your own humanity in your missteps and foibles, it is far easier to cut yourself some slack at moments when you would normally be hard on yourself.
What are some of the exercises that I can engage in, where I can start to experience a little bit more freedom to be myself?