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Self-Compassion, the first step to Wellness

     You open the door for an elderly sick person.  You offer your condolences to a friend who just lost a family member to cancer.  You listen to someone who is alone and in despair after the breakup of their relationship.  You hold a crying child in your arms.  In these examples, compassion is being given to someone in pain.   Compassion is bringing a sensitivity to someone's pain with a desire to help.
My children on my wedding day

     If you are on the giving side of compassion, you know that feeling, the feeling of warmness and caring in your heart.  It's such a very good feeling.  So why not treat yourself to some of it? I mean aren't you the one who has the most power and responsibility for your own wellbeing?

     While the experience of giving compassion may appear rewarding only to the recipient, there are rewards for the giver as well.  As the giver, you actually lower stress and calm your body.  Basically, it's a win-win situation for both parties.  

     Therefore, don't limit giving compassion to others.  Give it to yourself to feel the full power of being the giver and the receiver together.   It's not as complicated as you may think.  

    This is especially important for those of us who do not (or did not growing up) receive a lot of compassion from others.  

     If that is you, then you will especially benefit from what I am about to say.   Give compassion to yourself!  It's called self-compassion and there is a big deficit of it in the people I come across, starting with myself.   Many out there who look happy are anything but that underneath.  Learning self-compassion is not easy or else a lot of would be doing more of it.  Accepting that we feel stressed, unhappy, tired or mistreated is a starting point for bringing compassion to your pain.  The good thing is that it's never too late to choose self-compassion.  As with most things, there is a process to it which takes commitment.  That commitment is to yourself.  Don't fear if you feel resistant-  that is a natural reaction.  

     Self-compassion has all kinds of health benefits.   One of the most significant is that it makes you more resilient or able to bounce back and continue to move forward.   In addition, it lowers self-criticism and builds up self-worth, which then helps you be more successful achieving your goals and meeting challenges ahead.  Seems like something good to try.  As I read this, I wondered why don't I do more of it then? How could I overlook this incredible healing power for so long?  Ironically, I was being self-critical as I read how not to be self-critical.  
     When I read this in my research, I thought I have some catching up to do with self-compassion.  But I didn't want to be too hard on myself either.  After all, I was learning about self-compassion.  Self-compassion may sound a bit abstract but in essence it's about being on your side and looking after yourself.   This is not an us versus them mentality either.  In fact, the more self-compassion you have the more you are able to give to others in need.  

     There are exercises to bring compassion to your pain and I tried one out today.  It felt a bit weird doing these steps but I found it to be very effective.  For a few seconds I felt how much I mattered.  Now I have to need try it again to get my self-compassion fix.  I invite you to read my next post on doing the exercise itself.

Eddie Grassi
Life Coach.


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