Holding Your Self Kindly

He didn’t see it coming. Around the last rounds of a singing reality contest on TV, I watched Lito so focused and reality was treating him well. The coaches were picking and advancing him. Then, reality slap came in. He was removed from advancing to the semi-final round.

Lito saw me right after the loss. In the psych debriefing room, he was sobbing and crumbling a lot. Clearly “spaced out,” he can hardly speak and on the brink of harming himself with his behavior. There felt a huge amount of sadness, sorrow, regret, fear, anxiety, and anger beneath Lito’s surface.

When we are hurting or have suffered a loss, we all need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done for many. For most of us, the default setting of our mind is to be harsh, critical, uncaring, and judgmental of ourselves. In every case, what’s involved is learning to accept and embrace the gap between the reality that we’ve got and the reality that we want.     

So, we need to learn the therapy of “Self-Compassion.” It’s extending compassion to one’s self in situations of perceived loss, failure, inadequacy or pain. Psychotherapist Dr. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Basically, this therapeutic tool, self-compassion, is the act of “holding your self with care.” With it, we can find calm amid the chaos, heal the wounds, and come through stronger than before.  

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