Loving Kindness, Compassion and “Self-Compassion”
February conjures up all kinds of conceptual ideas about Valentine’s Day. These come from our own personal history with this holiday, our expectations of what we hope it will be, and from the media blitz professing what it should be. The day is dedicated to love and we are encouraged to put our money where are heart is by showering our loved ones with all the glitz we can muster including chocolates, flowers, cards, jewelry and gifts.
I am advocating that we not focus so much on the “hallmark theme” of bestowing gifts, but rather we make this a holiday dedicated to love through heart-centered ways – extending love from our heart to others, including ourselves. Wholeness Healing Center’s motto, “Heart Centered Wellness for Life” is a good focus for this day.
Consider extending this heart centered focus to include yourself as well as others. I do believe we are here to love ourselves as deeply as we work to love others. Without putting the oxygen mask on ourselves, we can’t help others receive the oxygen. Loving ourselves may be the hardest act, yet, to pull off. We can be loving to others but sometimes extending that same grace to ourselves is difficult. So maybe we can take some baby steps towards this process and start with this heart centered holiday.
In keeping with this theme, focus on having loving-kindness and compassion towards all people, “including” ourselves. When we have the same loving-kindness and compassion towards ourselves as we would extend to our loved one or our best friend, it is called self-compassion. Self-compassion requires that we treat ourselves as lovingly as we would others. Self-compassion can be tough to extend.
Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as being warm and understanding with ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with selfcriticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable. They work to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences, rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. A good road map for each of us. (Seppala, 2011)
Take a moment to be still, open your heart and send love, kindness and compassion to those you love. And then add yourself into the mix and send that same love, kindness and compassion from your heart to you. Repeat positive phrases such as: “May you be happy.” “May you be safe.” “May you be healthy, peaceful and strong.” Then add yourself to this. “May I be happy.” “May I be safe.” “May I be healthy, peaceful and strong.” Sit with the feelings. Allow them to go from your heart to embrace you and from your heart to embrace others. Soak it in. Feel it in your heart. Bask in it.
Through this practice, not only can you can actually alleviate suffering that you impose upon yourself, you can heal, thrive and enhance your process of living life. Having compassion for yourself will also allow you to be more compassionate towards others. Consider taking some of these baby steps towards having “heart centered wellness for life”. Happy Valentine’s Day, from our heart to yours. May you be happy. Works Cited: Seppala, E. (2011, September). Self compassion – the secret to empower life is learning not to beat yourself up palousemindfulness.com. Retrieved from Spirituality and Health.Tags: loving kindness on this valentine's day, self compassion, self compassion is good for the heart on this valentines day, valentine's day and being kind to you
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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