Compassion starts inside

Shawn Carney Art - Open Hearts and RoadsIn a world that is rife with stress, obstacles, disappointments, and pain it’s often hard to find compassion when we need it most. Starting within and providing yourself with a generous level of self-love and kindness can create a transformative path through that suffering. It isn’t easy, but you can do it by consistently practicing these four steps.

The first thing to do is to take a moment and breathe. Don’t act, don’t react, don’t run, don’t lean in. Just focus as much as you can on your breath. Slow, steady, deep breaths.

Once you have your breath, look inside. Notice what you are feeling, physically and emotionally. Where is it manifesting? Your heart, your core, your throat, somewhere else? This often tells you something about the root of the emotion.

Finding the space to accept that emotion you are feeling, whether it is fear or pain, disappointment or anger, allows you to tolerate it. In that toleration, you can find acceptance. It is a feeling, it is not you. You move through it and it moves through you, but it is not you. Accept that it exists, separate from you.

Knowing this is a transitive experience that will soon pass can give you the distance to manage it compassionately. Most of the time, these emotions are remnants of old, ingrained patterns that are trying to protect you. Unfortunately, they are often so outdated that they cause you more pain than then prevent. Understand that it is trying to help. Believe that it has good intentions somewhere in its core. Speak gently to it and thank it and ask it to leave so you can make room for positivity. Being compassionate with your pain allows you to be compassionate with yourself, which allows you to be compassionate with the world.

Regular practice of these four steps towards self-compassion can help you to handle adversity with grace.

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