Pause for Thought – Self-Compassion

Day 4

This week we have already explored compassion from several angles. I have talked about the importance of compassion towards others, and today I’m going to focus on the area of compassion that is often most neglected: Compassion towards ourselves.

In my work I am privileged to meet many people whose compassion towards others knows no bounds. But when I ask them about self-compassion they often stare at me blankly, or laugh and say “I don’t have time for that!”

Self-compassion is not to be confused with selfishness. It is only when we have compassion towards ourselves that we can truly and consistently give to others.

Think about a bank account. Before you can be generous with your finances, you must make sure you have enough to meet your own basic needs, otherwise you will soon find yourself overdrawn and in trouble. The same is true of compassion. If we keep giving our compassionate energy away without ensuring we have enough reserves for our own self-care, we become exhausted and depleted. We can end up floundering, with nothing left to give.

Our compassion bank account is credited when we take time to do the things we love. And when we practice loving kindness towards ourselves.

Self-compassion means letting go the harsh internal criticism we tend to reserve especially for ourselves, learning to appreciate ourselves for our myriad positive qualities, and letting ourselves off the hook for not being perfect. If a friend makes a mistake, we reassure her that it’s fine,  we love her anyway. What if we habitually did the same for ourselves?

Our compassion bank account is credited when we take time to do the things we love. And when we practice loving kindness towards ourselves.

Self-compassion means letting go the harsh internal criticism we tend to reserve especially for ourselves, learning to appreciate ourselves for our myriad positive qualities, and letting ourselves off the hook for not being perfect. If a friend makes a mistake, we reassure her that it’s fine,  we love her anyway. What if we habitually did the same for ourselves?

Tam Martin Fowles
Originally broadcast on BBC Radio Devon Pause for Thought

Self-compassion is an essential quality that can be the hardest part of the compassionate lifestyle. But also the most valuable.

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