Compassion, is there room for that?

Is there room for compassion? 

This is a question I often ask clients. It’s important to weave self-compassion into your routine. 

The world can be a difficult place to navigate. On top of that, we are human and make mistakes or choices not in line with our values. Consequently, you may feel shame or guilt when making a misstep in life. This is natural. 

These feelings are there to inform us that something is not quite right, that we need to pay attention to be able to resolve the feelings. However, it can be problematic when these feelings are no longer used as information, and instead become a part of your identity. A part of your worth. 

This is where compassion comes in!

Young woman holding big heart [Converted]

Having compassion for yourself is a practice, not a destination. Self-compassion in particular can be really difficult to tap into when feeling shame or guilt. Unfortunately, some people have the belief that they need to sink into the shame or guilt to not make the same “mistake” again. My question to you is, “is that working for you?” 

Let’s take a look a basic learning principles. Punishment is not a very effective way to learn and change behaviors. However, positive reinforcement and collaborative problem solving is. You can use these moments that brought about shame or guilt as a way to learn and grow, all while offering yourself some grace and compassion. 

One large study*, which analyzed data from nine studies, found that those who practice self-compassion have lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. This finding is huge. Thus, self-compassion has a very strong relationship with mental health and wellbeing and with the time to practice. 

So, I challenge you to practice more self-compassion when you hit a bump in the road or have a negative thought about yourself. 

*MacBeth, A., and Gumley, A. (2012) Exploring compassion: a meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology. Clinical Psychology Review, 32 (6). pp. 545-552. ISSN 0272-7358. https://eprints.gla.ac.uk/64162/1/64162.pdf

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