We often hear that the best approach to self-help is self-compassion. The idea of self-compassion is also widely promoted as part of well-being, but what does it actually mean? And, how do we go about adopting a more compassionate approach to ourselves?
During September, here at 3b we tuned in to be part of a fascinating insight into all things ‘self’. The Self-Acceptance Summit hosted by Sounds True, provided a series of webinar presentations led by a wide range of speakers, authors, practitioners, teachers and neuroscientists working across the field of what may be described as ‘self-help’. (A limiting label perhaps, yet one which hopefully gives you an idea of the themes involved.)
As we listened in, reflected and discussed the issues raised throughout the summit, we recognised so many stories, experiences and messages that very much relate to our own philosophy and approach. Plus, highlighting lots of ways to weave in the 3Bs as we look to apply our learning.
Here are some of our own stand-out points and nuggets of wisdom gathered from this experience:
Firstly and perhaps most importantly, self-compassion is an integral part of being human. It is not self-obsession or naval gazing. We all need nurturing and we need attention to be directed toward ourselves. This is a good thing.
The challenge though, is that it’s actually easier to show others compassion than it is to show it to ourselves. We can be the most caring, empathetic person on the planet toward everyone else in our life, and yet applying the same approach to ourselves requires different thinking. It involves re-programming some of the key messages and thought-processes that we have learnt throughout our lifetime, plus lots of practice as we seek to create a more objective relationship with our self.
Self-care is fundamental to self-acceptance, however many of the programmes and approaches available to us are actually designed to get you chasing another external fix. The marketing and consumerism of the self-help industry simply creates more sticks to beat yourself with and more ways to make you feel less, therefore fuelling our sense of unworthiness or lacking. Whereas true self-acceptance is about really digging deep into self, getting to know yourself, confronting the stuff that makes us uncomfortable and understanding it before working through it, rather than seeking a way to escape.
It is a process requiring tools and ongoing commitment and this is where books, DVDs, podcasts, blogs and inspiration can help. But the purpose of these tools is to enable and the most important part is you. You are the bit that makes it work – in the way that you need it to!
So, how can the 3bs support us in our journey of self-acceptance?
Be – beginning wherever we are and allowing ourselves to recognise how we are feeling and to acknowledge that this is ok, because it will pass. To accept our discomfort and to sit with it. Only then can we start to move through things.
Believe – assembling tools, processes and resources to support to help and to discover what works best for you. To know the truth of self-acceptance and to trust that the more caring and compassionate we are with ourselves, the more emotionally tuned-in and resilient we will become.
Breathe – to allow time to put things into practice and to create space for ourselves to grow, expand, reflect and learn. To prioritise this time as a key part of daily life and to be aware of ourselves and what we need every single day.