For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a tendency to criticize myself pretty harshly and unfairly. I’m frequently beating myself up about something I said or did – sometimes, a thing that happened years ago, which is likely remembered by no one except for me.
When I first discovered Brene Brown and read The Gifts of Imperfection, I was excited to read about her reference to a researcher and writer who studied self-compassion – Kristen Neff. Kristen wrote a book called Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.
A few months ago, I was scanning a website for Social Work CEU trainings, and saw a one-day training entitled “Self-Compassion and Emotional Resilience” with Kristen. Honestly, I was a little in disbelief, and slightly star-struck; I couldn’t believe that Kristen was speaking so close by and to an audience of regular old social workers/psychologists/counselors like me. My supervisor approved the training, and I almost felt guilty. (While I am sure that my being more self-compassionate would have numerous residual benefits for my clients, my excitement for this training was 100% selfish and self-motivated.)
This training was amazing and transforming for me. Kristen led us in many meditations, and I hadn’t realized how much of her work was rooted in mindfulness and meditation. The most powerful exercise we practiced involved almost tricking ourselves into self-compassion. First, we pictured a being for which we felt unconditional and uncomplicated love – mine was my eighteen-month-old niece – and wished them love, peace, and ease. Then, we pictured ourselves with the being, and wished ourselves and our identified being love, peace, and ease. And lastly, of course, we pictured just ourselves, and tried to wish, as lovingly and peacefully and easily, those blessings for JUST us, just because.
A few days after the training, I was so motivated and inspired that I decided to order Kristen’s six-session audio program, Self-Compassion Step-By-Step, and I’ve found it amazingly helpful. Already, I catch myself taking “self-compassion breaks” and feeling free to bathe myself in self-compassion at the times when others need me the most.