Ep. 175: How to Practice Self-Compassion
Welcome back to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. Today I want to talk about something that is so important to me. This is also something I think we all need a little reminder about from time to time and that is the importance of self-compassion. Today I want to share an exercise on how to practice self-compassion.
I want you to imagine that someone you care about comes to you and says that they are struggling or having a hard time. What is your first reaction likely to be? You probably will say something along the lines of "Oh I'm so sorry. How can I help you?" Now I want you to try this same approach the next time you are struggling. You can learn how to practice self-compassion by treating yourself how you would treat a loved one or even a stranger who is struggling. Stop and say to yourself "Ok you are in pain. Let's tend to that pain." Our work is really to tend to ourselves the way we would tend to others. Respect ourselves the way we respect others. There is no exception to this. You deserve kindness every step of the way.
The awesome thing about self-compassion is that it has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, improve treatment outcomes and improve quality of life. So let's learn how to practice self-compassion and really honor how we are feeling, giving ourselves the same loving kindness that we show to others.
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Transcript of Episode 175
Welcome to Your Anxiety Toolkit. I’m your host, Kimberley Quinlan. This podcast is fueled by three main goals. The first goal is to provide you with some extra tools to help you manage your anxiety. Second goal, to inspire you. Anxiety doesn’t get to decide how you live your life. And number three, and I leave the best for last, is to provide you with one big, fat virtual hug, because experiencing anxiety ain’t easy. If that sounds good to you, let’s go.
Welcome back lovely, lovely friends. How are you? How are you doing? Just checking in with you guys. Thank you again for being here with me. Once again, I am so grateful that you choose to spend your time with me. So thank you so much.
Today’s episode is a little bit of an impromptu, mainly because I recently did an Instagram post, and it’s on a concept I talk about all the time, but it got a lot of traction. It really made me realize that maybe you needed that reminder. I always think it’s interesting when a concept sticks really heavily with people. It makes me realize like, “Oh, okay, that’s where I need to head. That’s the direction that people obviously need help.”
Let me share with you what this concept was. One of the core concepts of self-compassion is to treat yourself how you would treat someone else if they themselves were suffering. What I want to do is, I want you to go with me on a little exercise, just to check in and see if there are any areas that you could up your self-compassion game, because if you’re going to up your self-compassion game, every single goal of mine has been won and we can all go home really, really happy. It’s one of my core missions. A part of my mission statement is to hopefully create a world of people who have anxiety, who stopped to treat themselves better, kinder, more compassionately, more respectfully, just nicer.
Here’s the exercise. I want you to think back to a time where someone you love deeply was struggling. If you can’t think of a time, just imagine it. Think of someone who you care about, who you genuinely wish well. Think about them coming to you and them saying, “Hey, I’m having a hard time.”
Now, when someone you love, someone you care for, someone you wish to be well, comes to you and says, “I’m having a hard time. I am suffering,” what is your immediate response? Usually, our immediate response is, “Oh my goodness. That is so painful. I’m so sorry. You’re going through that. How can I help? What can I do to support you?” That’s the best kind of care.
Now, for those of you who, when I originally asked the question, had a different reaction, that’s fine too. It’s common that when someone else is suffering, sometimes we may feel defensive or we may feel angry because we haven’t got the space for it. Or we may feel resentful because we assume their pain doesn’t compare to our pain.
If you had any of those reactions, that’s fine. I’m not here to tell you how to feel. And that may be something you want to go and work through because if those reactions were strong, those reactions need to be tended to with self-compassion too. We don’t want to just judge you and go, “Oh, that’s wrong,” and move on. No, no, no. That does not add to a self-compassionate practice. That just takes you away into self-criticism and self-punishment. So we don’t want to do that. Back up a little. We don’t want to do that.
But let’s just go to this genuine innate reaction that most humans, almost all humans, or actually all humans were born with, which is the genuine care to help and take care of each other, which I know is you. I know it’s you deep, deep down. Now, that reaction, that desire, that impulse to go, “Hey, how can I support you?” that is exactly how you need to tend to yourself when you’re suffering, when you’re having a moment of pain.
Disregarding where the pain came from, disregarding whose fault and who’s to blame and how you could have prevented it, I want you to lean towards speaking to yourself, how you would speak to another person or even a stranger. Sometimes we treat strangers better than we do our loved ones. That’s the truth too. But again, I’m not here to judge. I’m not here to tell you how to feel and how to treat others. I’m here to talk about how you can up your self-compassion game.
When you’re in pain to say, “Hey, I am so sorry you are going through this. How can I be there for you? What do you need? What will get you through this?” And often the person, let’s say we were talking to a loved one, they would have some wisdom for us often. If I were to say like, if my husband came to me and he was venting and he was telling me how much pain he was in, usually he just wants me to listen and be there. Very few people want advice.
That’s what I try to do for myself. There will be times when I’m in pain, where I need to stop and go, “Okay, Kimberley, you’re in pain. Let’s tend to this, but let’s also work to solve this problem.” The long-term problem, not the short term problem. We don’t want to just get rid of short-term relief. That usually ends up flopping. We end up falling on our butt when we do that or getting stuck in a cycle of problematic behaviors. But we may want to zoom out and go, “Okay, let’s take a really big look at the big problem here.”
Our work is to tend to ourselves like we would tend to others. Treat ourselves as we would treat others. Respect ourselves as we would respect others. There is no exception to this. You cannot give me one reason why you are exempt.
A lot of my patients and clients will say, “Oh no, but I deserve this. I did this to myself.” It doesn’t matter who you did it to, why you did it, and who’s to blame. You’re in pain. You’re suffering. You may have chosen this suffering or this behavior that caused suffering because you were in pain. There is no exception. You deserve kindness every single way, every single step of the way.
That’s all I have to say. Put it into practice. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We really want to focus in on this as being our highest priority.
A little bit of science, self-compassion helps everything. We don’t have scientific evidence of exactly that, but almost we do. It helps with motivation. It helps with anticipatory anxiety. It helps with treatment. It helps with treatment outcomes. It helps with success performance. It helps with quality of life. It reduces depression. It reduces anxiety. It increases quality of life. Go for it. That’s our in sparks. Don’t stop.
All right. I’m going to say goodbye. Before I do so, I’m going to let you know, again, please do go and leave an honest review wherever you listen to this. I would absolutely love it. It would be the best, best, best thing for me if you could. We are going to give away a pair of Beats headphones of your choosing of color for one lucky person who leaves an honest review. I’m not just saying the people who leave the best ones, but I have loved reading all of the reviews. Thank you so much. It really does help me find other people who need my help. So, go ahead and leave a review if you feel so inclined.
Have a wonderful day, and I’ll talk to you next week.
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