Updated: Jun 9
Self-compassion sends a message of safety to the brain. It's really that simple. Stepping into self-compassion tells the brain “I’ve got your back”. Even when you’re not perfect, make a mistake or do something foolish-it’s okay. In other words, it’s safe to be human.
The lack of self-compassion that most of us were raised with and think is normal, feeds the fight/flight/freeze response. “Do better”, “try harder”, “get your shit together” as an internal dialogue pretty quickly triggers a F/F/F response, just like it does if we are hearing that from someone else. But we are often so used to that negative internal dialogue that it feels normal, even though it keeps us in an unhealthy cycle and feeds dysregulation. The inner critic that most of us have, tends to go through the roof with limbic system impairment and that negative internal dialogue goes to a whole new level.
It takes time to learn how to be compassionate with yourself. We aren’t taught this in school and often don’t see it modeled for us at home. And just like any other new pattern, it often feels weird, forced or fake at first. Many of us have achieved success with pushing through and being hard on ourselves, so self-compassion may feel very foreign. It did to me and it took me time to realize that it was actually an important part of my healing toolkit. I thought self-compassion wasn't all that important and something to get around to when I had the time. What I came to realize was I desperately needed to learn self-compassion and step away from my old patterns of pushing through.
I also realized that I needed to not only learn about self-compassion, but practice it too. Taking time to cultivate self-compassion during the easier times is essential so that we can tap into it during the hard ones. Trying to use self-compassion in difficult times when we haven't ever cultivated it in easier ones is similar to walking into a gym for the first time and trying to lift a 50 pound dumbbell-it's not going to go very well. So start taking a few moments each day to exercise and build this new skill, it will serve you well.
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