Definitions: a basic kindness, with deep awareness of the suffering of oneself and other living things coupled with the wish and effort to relieve this suffering
Synonyms: benevolence, empathy, grace, humanity, kindness, mercy, tenderness, heart, consideration, softness, yearning, fellow feeling
Why are the words “compassion” and especially “self-compassion” so cringe-worthy to many of us? Why do we so intensely resist moving towards self-compassion in particular? When we see something unjust happening in the world, bullying for example, we often have some sort of gut reaction, a “this isn’t right” sort of feeling. But when it comes to bullying ourselves, there can be more of an “I deserve this” attitude at play. The challenge this month is to begin noticing that critical internal dialogue. To do so you may find it helpful to create a character or a face to pair with these kinds of “Internal Critic” thoughts. Once you are apt at calling these thoughts out for what they are you can begin to offer this critical part of yourself some compassion. “How the heck do I do that?” you may be asking. Well, you might first start by reflecting on if this part of you wants something – to work harder, to be more successful, to connect with others more efficiently. Then you might look deeper to feel what this part of you needs. It likely is wanting some normalization, validation and most importantly, some compassion. You could try telling this part of yourself, “I hear you, thank you for reminding me that something important is happening here.” Or you could simply place a hand on the part of your body where this Internal Critic shows up most intensely and imagine that it is helping you make room to have these painful thoughts and feelings. With practice we can learn to be loving, understanding and compassionate towards the most painful parts of ourselves and in turn learn to have even greater love, understanding and compassion for others.
Rule: Compassion is reserved for others and/or must be earned or deserved in some way
Challenge: I can freely give compassion to myself as well as others without justification