There are 3 areas to consider under each element of self compassion … they are,
- when we protect ourselves
- when we provide for ourselves
- when we motivate ourselves.
Just a little but of explanation here …
For instance, when self-compassion is aimed at protecting ourselves, it feels like a fierce, empowered mother.… and has very clear boundaries, “No! That is not OK. You will go no further.”
As far as common humanity is concerned, it is about standing together in strength. We are empowered by our connection with others. And then… in mindfulness there is that real sense of clarity around, “This is not OK.”
And when self-compassion is about providing for ourselves….
It feels different because we are giving ourselves what we truly, authentically need. In this case, the kindness feels very fulfilling and satisfying. When we give ourselves what we need, we feel fulfilled. When it concerns common humanity, we recognise there is a balance required. In other words, we don’t just give in to ourselves, or just give in to the needs of others, common humanity allows us to balance our needs with others needs.
And then in mindfulness, it gives us a real sense of authenticity: “What do I need? Do I even know what I need?”
And lastly, if we’re motivating ourselves, kindness arrives as encouragement.
It isn’t kindness, when someone needs to be motivated and they’re stuck, to just say “Oh well, don’t worry, that’s fine.” Or to ourselves if we aren’t feeling happy, to say, “Oh, that’s fine, it’s okay.” Kindness means we don’t criticise ourselves, we don’t call ourselves names, but we can say “You can do it! Go for it!”
Kindness is a very encouraging quality. And the common humanity of motivation, kind of sees how things are related to each other. It comes from the bigger view of interdependence — the causes and conditions that come together to create our suffering.
So, when we motivate ourselves, common humanity actually manifests as wisdom. We can see where we’re stuck, why we’re stuck, what mistakes we’ve made, we kind of understand the bigger picture of what’s happening. And in, mindfulness, under the motivational umbrella, is insight. It gives us the vision to see what we need to change in order to help ourselves. So in this case, kindness, common humanity and mindfulness feel like an encouraging, wise vision.
There will be changes that you need to make if you care about yourself and you don’t want to suffer. You’re going to want to be your best self. And mostly we want to be safe and happy, and if we don’t get this right, we beat ourselves up, over and over.
So, what voice is more effective?
The one telling you how bad you are?
Or a voice that’s encouraging, and supportive?
We’re definitely going to listen more to that encouraging and supportive voice. We’re also going to be able to take in what that voice is saying more readily than a voice who’s just shutting us down.
And this leads nicely into another element of Self-compassion which is constructive criticism
This an element of wisdom, where you can ask questions like ….What mistakes did I make? How can I do it better next time?
This is a really caring, understanding, compassionate approach. Self-criticism normally just gives us unhelpful information, like, “You’re bad. You did it wrong. Do it better next time.” It doesn’t say what to do differently or how to do it differently, it doesn’t see the bigger picture of all the causes and conditions that led to the outcome.
So the wisdom of kindness, provides us with an insight of “Oh… I see. I did this. Maybe I can try this differently next time. It’s gives us more choices when we let that wisdom in.
Evolution points to negative emotions narrowing our focus, and limiting insights and any possible wise choices we might be able to invite in. We only see what we did wrong and how we were wrong. Positive emotions, like — kindness, safety, and warmth — have the opposite effect, the effect of broadening our perspective so that we can have a larger vision to see possibilities – aahh, I could try this, and do it this way, which would be much better.
So, benefits of self compassion, thanks to the research done by Kristen Neff and Chris Germer, really backs up this kind of encouraging, wise voice of compassionate motivation, it is actually much more effective and more sustainable in motivating ourselves to change.