FINDING COMPASSION WITHIN

By |2024-01-26T12:51:27-08:00January 25th, 2016|Life Skills, Therapy & Change, Transformation and Change|1 Comment

 

Every part of us that we do not love will regress and become more primitive – Carl Jung

 

I have been thinking for a long time about writing about Self-Compassion. In my work as a psychotherapist and with my friends and family, I am constantly struck by the lack of self-compassion people convey in their words about their work and life. They are constantly saying things like “I am so stupid”, “I should have known better”, “how could I have missed that”, “who would notice or like a _____”. “I am just a ________” etc. etc.

 

No wonder we have high levels of depression and anxiety in our culture. Western society is high on guilt and judging individuals. It also encourages people to have unrealistically high standards for themselves and sometimes their standard is pure perfectionism. Their failings are seen as a panacea for everything that is wrong. Not only are individuals judged and blamed, parents, in particular,  are one of most heavily blamed group in society. Some people believe that individual blame conveniently shifts the responsibility from organizational, corporate and /or institutional/governmental culpability.

 

What is self-compassion? I think we confuse it with selfishness if we tend to spend time on caring for our self. Self care and self-compassion, I suggest is an afterthought, something we do when we have time and when all our responsibilities are taken care of. What happens usually is there is nothing left to give to self. We turn to other things like alcohol or drugs, food or other dependencies that hook us quickly but do not provide the profound and positive affect of simple self-compassion.

 

Self-compassion is the act that states “I am human; I am fallible and it is OK to make mistakes to change my mind, to pursue my passion.” It is not judging our actions as good or bad, just viewing  them as  part of learning and growing, part of being human. How can we be compassionate with others if we do not practice it with ourselves? The Green Cross Standards of Care state that we cannot perform our work as a caregiver unless we take care of ourselves. There is also the  metaphor of the airplane oxygen mask; putting it on first before we put it on others.

 

The driver of this judgemental approach is our critical voice or voices that are internalized from the Media, and the dominant stories in our culture about who is valued and who is not; from our parents and school experiences. Awareness is the key to self-compassion and the more we understand these influences, the more we have control over our actions. When we judge ourselves harshly it demeans us and often drives our self-esteem into the black hole of constant recrimination, fear and helplessness.

 

There is a Buddhist sutra that is called Metta or lovingkindness that blesses ourselves and others. It is a meditation similar to the following:

 

May I be safe

May I be healthy

May I have ease of body and mind

May I be at peace

 

The practice goes on to bless others, dearest ones, benefactors, neutral ones and those we are in conflict with. Compassion starts with the self and it encompasses our work, our friends and family, relationships with others and those who are sick, troubled or difficult to deal with. The whole world looks and feel different when we practice self compassion. The native Hawaiians have a practice called Ho’oponopono which is a forgiveness ritual that starts with loving, accepting, and forgiving the self and then others. They call it the miracle healing practice.

 

Self- compassion is a simple concept however it is not easy to practice. It requires accepting ourselves and all our parts warts and all!!!

Your comments are welcome! Please contact me at 604-562-9130.

 

 

About the Author:

Dr. Hall's background includes a Communications degree at SFU and a MA in Counselling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Vancouver and Chicago. Also the author completed a Doctorate program in Clinical Psychology from California Southern University. In 2015 as a result of Dr. Hall’s doctorate research on organizational health she published in Harm’s Way: Health Care Workers at Risk an argument for organizational change. Dr. Hall has taken poetry writing at UBC (Lorna Crozier) and Creative Writing courses from Langara College including Free Lance Magazine writing and Write the Wild Horse. The author has published articles through the Rehab Review and Rehab Matters magazine of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada (Compassion Fatigue, Dual Relationships, and Pain Disorders) and was on their Editorial review board. I have published articles in Cognica (Compassion Fatigue) the magazine of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association and the International Network in Personal Meaning (Forgiveness). Both my websites have Blogs: Http://www.ravenvocationalconsulting.ca focuses on work related and career issues and Http://www.drdenisehall.ca.com focuses on nonfiction writing. Dr. Hall is currently publishing a newsletter and podcasts on Substack (https://drdenisehall.substack.com/publish) and preparing a book for publication.

One Comment

  1. Deb March 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks Dr. Hall.

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