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Cultivating Self-Compassion

13 Jul 2013 6:00 PM - By Tal Schlosser

If you already thought I bang on a lot about self-compassion I’m about to take it to a whole new level! I recently spent two days with the wonderful Paul Gilbert and Dennis Tirch in an intensive workshop on Compassion Focused Therapy, and I’m now truly inspired to bring compassion even more into my own life and the lives of my clients.

Most of us are pretty familiar with the self-critic. That’s the part of ourselves that likes to put us down, point out our flaws and inadequacies, or maybe even hates aspects of ourselves. This self-critic tends to get a lot of air-time and yet it typically leads to nothing but suffering. When does it ever feel good to beat yourself up? 

Often my clients hold on to self-criticism in the belief that it drives them to achieve, or that without it they’d become lazy, or even worse, a wanker! Have you ever asked yourself though whether your self-critic really is serving you? And even if it does lead to some positives, what is the cost to you?

We all stuff up, make mistakes or handle things poorly at times - it's part of being human. What if you could be more gentle with yourself when you suffer, fail, or are inadequate – what might you have to gain?

Self-compassion is something that can be cultivated and practiced, just like any other skill. There are practical compassion building exercises that we can learn and practise to build up self-compassion, and in time this helps us to redress the balance between our self-critical and self-compassionate selves.

If you wanted to be a great guitar player - you’d practice; if you wanted to be a great tennis player – you’d practice. And yet we don’t spend a lot of time practicing being the kind of person we’d like to be.

In “The Compassionate Mind” Paul Gilbert states: “Research has found that developing kindness and compassion for ourselves and others builds our confidence, helps us create meaningful, caring relationships and promotes physical and mental health. Far from fostering emotional weakness, practical exercises focusing on developing compassion have been found to subdue our anger and increase our courage and resilience to depression and anxiety."

What is one thing you could do in the next day to be more compassionate towards yourself?

What might you gain by being more compassionate towards yourself? 

Let us know how you go!

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