Holding Hands

Why is it that we judge our mistakes so harshly, yet are forgiving or compassionate for the mistakes of others?

Trauma negatively influences our ability to be compassionate with ourselves. Self-compassion is having compassion for our self, like we would a friend. Self-compassion is about being kind in the ways we treat and talk to ourselves; it is also self-forgiveness. Instead of persevering through tough times, we can identify a painful moment as “a really difficult time” or a “time of suffering.” Maybe our response to this painful moment is a much needed cry, some self-care, calling a friend, or simply feeling these uncomfortable emotions.

We all have an inner critic, or an expectation of how we should feel shame and pain. This can be self-imposed (e.g., perfectionism), it may be influenced by our social network (e.g., family, friends, peers, co-workers) and it can be largely influenced by media (e.g., beautiful is being thin; success is lots of friends or money). A traumatic event (like cyber-sexual assaultor nonconsensual pornography and sexual assaultdeath of a loved oneoppressioninterpersonal violence) can disrupt how we speak to ourselves, and how we navigate our world. This can influence our relationships, career paths, psychological well-being, and physical well-being. Furthermore, common outcomes of trauma include depression and anxiety, and self-compassion work has been linked with reduced levels (Neff, 2011).

What exactly is self-compassion? Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer are pioneers in how we see self-compassion. Here are a few tips on how we can practice this.

  1. Perhaps it is forgiving ourselves for past mistakes with some added kindness, rather than ruminating over them and inflicting more trauma.

  2. Self-compassion journaling where we note our mistakes, and process these in a kind and compassionate way

  3. Take a self-compassion break

  4. Asking ourselves how we would talk to a friend in this moment…

  5. Self-compassion mindfulness meditations at self-compassion.org

 

Through practices mentioned above, and through greater awareness, mindfulness, and compassion with the self, we can recognize negative thoughts that enter our mind, identify a moment of suffering, and practice a more compassionate route of talking to our self.

Trauma Care: Self-Compassion