How understanding suffering can lead to self-compassion

How understanding suffering can lead to self-compassion

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Are you too hard on yourself?

Chances are the answer is yes.

The truth is that you are probably harder on yourself than anyone else in this world. But what good does that do?

Compassion for ourselves (and others) is a fundamental concept of mindfulness.

This means that we should strive to treat ourselves the way we would treat anyone we love-with kindness and radical acceptance. Flaws included.

Self-compassion has many benefits. Not only is it the key to our own happiness, it also helps us to develop a deep and abiding concern for others.

One reason for this is that compassion helps us to forgive the imperfections of those we care about. It helps us to see that, like us, everyone is driven by autopilot. We can become more tolerant by recognizing this fact.

So just how do we begin to develop self-compassion?

What I’m about to tell you is going to sound rather odd. All I ask is that you embrace this concept with an open mind.

To begin developing self-compassion, we need to be fully aware of our suffering.

I realize that may seem ridiculous. You might be thinking “but shouldn’t I start by focusing on thinking more positively?”

The answer is no.

Though this seems like the most logical first step, there’s a reason it isn’t. And that reason is this…

In reality, most of us have only a general sense of our suffering. That’s because we don’t consciously think much about the details of our dissatisfaction.

Why would we? No one wants to focus on the negatives in life.

As a result, we have a vague sense that we are unhappy, but we really aren’t sure why. We are blind to the reason for our unhappiness.

We can’t change something that we don’t understand, right?

So to make a lasting change, we have to be fully present with whatever exists in the moment.  And that means being fully aware of our suffering.

The next step is the wish to relieve that suffering.

This desire is crucial. Even if our thoughts tell us a different story.

You see, autopilot thinking may tell us that we can’t or don’t deserve compassion. Left unchallenged, this can become a roadblock which makes the end goal of self-compassion seem impossible.

When this happens, we must remember that thoughts aren’t facts.

Sometimes thoughts have truth in them and sometimes they are totally false. So no matter what your thoughts may say, you can still become more compassionate with yourself.

To begin this process, we need commit to relieving our own suffering by practicing mindfulness itself.

We, as humans, are all very imperfect creatures. We make many mistakes. And that’s ok. Our flaws make us unique.

Embrace those flaws with loving kindness. We all deserve to be happy and free of suffering. No matter what.

We just need to commit to making self-compassion a priority.

To your mindfulness,

Dr. Marchand

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