Self-compassion can be a powerful tool for the relief of suffering. Evolution has designed us both to give and to receive compassion, the urge to relieve suffering. As long as there is not too much interference with our development, we grow up naturally wanting to be compassionate and kind.
Can you remember a time when you were suffering in some way and someone was kind, warm, caring, and non-judging as they tried their best to help you? If you cannot remember such a time, please try to simply imagine being treated with such kindness. As you imagine or remember, take your time. Now notice how you feel inside. Maybe, like most of us, you will notice some type of pleasant sensations. I hope this is true for you.
Now remember a time when you were kind and helped someone else. Visualize the kindness, warmth, caring and non-judging flowing from you as you try to help. Now notice how you feel inside. Maybe, like most of us, you will notice some type of pleasant sensations. I hope this is true for you.
For many people, this activity can help them to connect with what nature has designed within us. Compassion can be cultivated, not only to give to others, but also to give to ourselves. We all are born with a nervous system that feels pain from many kinds of events, both real and present events, and also those we may remember or imagine. Fortunately, in nature’s wisdom, a capacity to find peace and comfort has also been built into our nervous system. Without this capacity, we could not have survived as a species.
Compassion and self-compassion are pathways to connect with that comforting capacity we all have within us. Many psychotherapists, due to their intimate contact with suffering, have become interested in how to nurture self-compassion in those seeking their help.
If you want to learn more, the resources below may be helpful. May this information bring something good into your life.
Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer, Ph.D.
Mindful Compassion by Paul Gilbert, Ph.D. and Choden
The author of this article, Dr. Fred McKinney, is a psychotherapist at Psych Choices of the Delaware Valley. To make an appointment with Dr. McKinney or another Psych Choices therapist, click on our Make an Appointment Page, or call our Intake coordinator at 610-626-8085, extension 213.