Self-compassion, or being compassionate towards oneself has been scientifically proven to be highly beneficial to our overall mental health and well-being. It can be an extremely useful and powerful tool in motherhood.
I first came across this term when learning about Kristin Neff‘s work. I have to admit that as a kind and compassionate person, it took me years to get my head around it. Tending to my own personal psychological needs simply felt unnatural. But practice makes perfect. I learned how to use it and very recently realised how valuable a tool it can be for mums. In fact, I catch myself applying it constantly.
Why do we need self-compassion?
We don’t like to admit it, but parenthood often puts us in situations that are objectively hard. Personally, I find myself suffering when my daughter is having tantrums-which is quite often at her age! Here are some other examples:
- Your child is having a rough night. You can’t keep your eyes open, you have something important at work the next day, but your need to tend to your child’s needs every hour.
- You’re frustrated because you’re at work while your child is sick. You’re full of guilt and can’t stop thinking about them.
- You’re so hungry you could eat a lion but you can’t eat because bedtime is taking 2 hours.
How to use self-compassion
There are three components to practicing self-compassion:
- Mindfulness (vs. over-identification with thoughts)
- Common humanity (vs. isolation)
- Self-kindness (vs. self-judgment)
Just imagine this scenario: Your toddler is screaming in the middle of a shopping center. Everybody is looking at you. Your heart is pounding, you’re out of breath and all you can think about is “Why is this happening to me? I feel so ashamed, I’m such a bad mum, I should have prevented this from happening, now everyone is judging me”. The self-compassionate response would be something like this: “I am having such a hard time right now, witnessing my toddler be so upset. I am suffering, but this is part of being human. Probably many mums are in the exact same situation I am in right now. Oh X, this is really tough. What do you need right now?”
Self-compassion involves realising that you’re suffering. Very often we are lost in our thoughts and we don’t step back to actually feel our feelings. It also involves placing ourselves as one person of the human race. All humans are vulnerable and bound to suffer sometimes. Finally, it’s about being kind to ourselves like we would be kind to a friend.
Being compassionate on a daily basis
As a parent, you know how to be compassionate and practice it all the time towards your children. Applying it towards yourself feels a bit strange at first, or even a bit emotional. The effort is worth it.