Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning Self Compassion with Kristin Neff

I'm not crazy about work books.  It's a 'me thing'.  I prefer a book that requires my attention but doesn't make demands of me. Things are simpler that way. But if I was to ever recommend a workbook...Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself is a must.  Not only are the exercises accessible, they are essential.  Each one provides a strategy to engage with Self Compassion and bring yourself that much closer a healthier and happier life.
The timing of this book was perfect for me.  I have been struggling with so many things and it felt like there was no way out. I learnt that asking for help was a step in the right direction but it is not enough.  I cannot make my problems someone else's burden. Yet even without a response from those I approached there was a moment of relief.  The understanding that I was not alone in my struggle somehow made that struggle easier.
It is from reading Kristin Neff's book that I now understand what was happening.  In asking for help I did two things; I acknowledged my suffering and I accepted that while I didn't have an answer there were other that might.  Two very important concepts in the practice of self-compassion: common humanity and mindfulness.  The third, which I lacked (and could not fully comprehend) was self-kindness.
Being kind to myself felt like a reward for 'bad behaviour'.  If I was going to screw up, why would I say to myself, "I am sorry that you are going through a hard time for the crap you pulled"?  It felt right to be angry with myself.  Yet after years of doing just that I had nothing to show for it.  I was ready for something new and with a little more scepticism than was deserved, I set forth to make a real attempt at self-compassion.
I would have loved to automatically find myself perfectly able to be compassionate with myself.  It is a slow going process (one I am unlikely to be done with any time soon).  But I have been furnished with tools that work and I am more than ready to put them to use.  Even after only a few weeks, I can see a difference in how I relate to myself and, even more surprising, how I relate to those around me.

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