Emotional Wellbeing


Mandy Kloppers

Why self compassion can make you happier

Developing Qualities of Inner Compassion

Being  self ­critical can  be very stressful and  make us  feel worse.  One way  of  coping with  disappointment and our ‘inner bully’ is to learn be compassionate to the self.  This requires a
number of things from us:

1.  Valuing Compassion:

Some  people  are worried that if  they  are compassionate  with themselves  they  may  somehow be weak  or lack the drive to succeed.  Thus,  they don’t  really  value compassion.  However,  if  we  think  about  people  who are  renowned  for their compassion,  such as  Buddha,  Jesus,  Ghandi,  Florence  Nightingale, and  Nelson Mandela, they  can  hardly be regarded  as  weak  or ‘unsuccessful’.  Learning  to  be compassionate  can actually  make us stronger and feel more confident.

2.  Empathy:

Empathy means that we can understand how people feel and think, see things from their point of view.  Similarly, when we have empathy for ourselves we  can develop a  better understanding for some  of our painful feelings  of  disappointment,  anxiety, anger or sadness.  This  can  mean  we  may need to  learn  when  to  be gently sensitive  to our feelings  and  distress  –  rather than try not to notice them or avoid them. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t feel or think as we do, and try to deny our feelings rather than working with them.  The problem with  this  is  that  we  don’t  explore  them to understand them and then they can be frightening to us.

3.  Sympathy:

Sympathy  is  less  about  our understanding and more about  feeling and wanting to  care,  help  and heal.  When we  feelsympathy  for someone,  we  can feel sad or distressed  with  them.  Learning to have sympathy for ourselves means that we can learn to be sad,  without being depressed e.g.  without  telling ourselves that there is something wrong or bad about feeling sad. We can also focus
on feelings of kindness in our sympathy.

4.  Forgiveness:

Our self­critical part is often  very unforgiving, and will usually see any opportunity to attack or condemn as an opportunity not to be missed! Learning the art of forgiveness however, is important.
Forgiveness  allows  us  to  learn  how to  change?  we  are  open  to  ourmistakes and learn from them.

5.  Acceptance/tolerance:

There  can be many  things  about  ourselves that  we  might  like to change, and  sometimes  it is helpful  to  do  that.  However,  it  is  also  important  to  develop acceptance  of  ourselves  as
human beings ‘as  we  are’ with  a full range of  positive and negative emotions.  Acceptance isn’t  passive  resignation,  such as  feelings  of being  defeated,  or not  bothering with  oneself.  It  is  an openheartednessto  all our fallibilities  and  efforts. It  is  like  having the flu and accepting that you have to go to bed perhaps, but also doing all you can to help your recovery.

6. Developing Feelings  of Warmth:

This  requires  us  to begin  to experience and practice generating feelings of warmth for the self.  To
do this we can use images and practice feeling warmth coming into us. When we are depressed this feeling may be very toned down and hard to  generate –  so  we  will have  to practice.  It  can seem strange and sometimes even frightening ­ so we can go step at a time.

7.  Growth:

Compassion is focused on helping people grow, change and develop.It is life enhancing in a way that bullying often is not. When
we learn to be compassionate with ourselves, we are learning to deal with  our fallible  selves,  such that  we  can grow and  change. Compassion can also  help  us  face some  of the painful feelings  we
wish to avoid.

8.  Taking responsibility:

One element of compassionate mind work is taking  responsibility  for one’s  self­critical thinking.  We  can learn  to understand how and  why  we  became  self­critical, often  becausewe feltthreatened in some way. Becoming empathic means coming to seethe threats that lay behind self  criticism.  To do this we  can learn to recognise when it’s happening and then use our compassionate side to provide alternative views and feelings.

9.  Training:

When we attack ourselves we stimulate certain pathways in our brain  but  when  we  learn to  be compassionate  and supportive to our efforts we stimulate different pathways.  Sometimes we are so well practiced at stimulating inner attacks/criticisms  that  our ability  to
stimulate inner support and warmth is rather under­developed.  Hence, now that we have seen how we can generate alternatives to our self attacking thoughts,  we  can explore  ways  to  help  them have  more emotional impact.  It  does  not  take away  painful realities  but  it  can help us to cope in a different way.  The training part can be like going to  a  physiotherapist,  where  you learn  to  do exercises  and  build  up certain strengths.  The compassion systems in your brain are the ones
we are trying to strengthen with our exercises.

Self compassion is something that many people do not show to themselves but when you do, you will find that other people treat you differently too. Self love is underrated and the more you champion and like yourself, and not give yourself a hard time, the happier you will be.

Mandy X