Compassion fatigue results when you overextend yourself, through caring for and supporting traumatised people and/or animals. Do you hold the belief that being of service to others is a vocation in which you are called upon to give your all? Perhaps, you feel that your needs are minor, particularly, when compared to the suffering of those you help.
Practicing self-compassion is a gentle way of beginning to include yourself in the circle of compassion. Why is this important? The answer is, because you must put your own oxygen mask on first, before attending to the needs of others. Self-compassion is the perfect way of improving your sense of well-being so that you can give to others from a place of deeper internal resource.
What are the components of self-compassion? Kristin Neff, extensively investigates this subject and has identified three core elements.
- Self-kindness: it is important to be gentle and understanding with yourself. Responding with caring, empathy and kindness as opposed to judging yourself harshly.
- Common humanity, you are not alone. You are connected to others through the experience of life, your struggles, successes, all the aspects of what it means to be human. This acceptance begins to break down the feeling of isolation and alienation caused by the symptoms of compassion fatigue.
- Mindfulness, allows you to “be” with painful feelings in balanced awareness, neither ignoring or exaggerating your experience.
Where can you begin the practice of self-compassion? The Loving Kindness Meditation is a good place to start, as it incorporates the above elements beautifully. Furthermore, neuroscientific studies have found that practicing this meditation daily for 7 weeks, leads to a variety of personal resources, including, an increase in positive emotions, a soothing of your inner critic and relieving stress.
I have included a 13-minute “Loving Kindness for Beginners” meditation for you to commence your practice and start experiencing the benefits for yourself. Enjoy!