This time next week, I’ll be in LA!
If you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a girl crush on Dr Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research. Ever since I came across the concept of self-compassion as a healthier way of relating to yourself, I’ve wanted to learn more. It just so happens that Dr Neff is teaching a 5-day intensive training workshop on Mindful Self Compassion in Los Angeles.
Me, my self-compassion idol and sunny California? Signing up was a no brainer. I’m beyond excited – 6 more sleeps!
I know I’ve talked about self-compassion before, but in light of my impending travels, I thought I’d dive into the concept a little deeper. As Kristin Neff has defined it, there are three main ways to generate more compassion for yourself:
- Common humanity
In order to be truly self-compassionate, we must achieve and combine these three essential elements.
I’ve decided to explore each of these components separately (in the form of a 3-part series) because each is equally important and let’s face it, you probably don’t want to read a 3,000 word blog post! Today I want to talk to you about SELF-KINDNESS, which is probably the most obvious ingredient in self-compassion.
"With self-kindness, we soothe and calm our troubled minds. We make a peace offering of warmth and gentleness and sympathy from ourselves to ourselves, so that true healing can occur" – Kristin Neff
Now, when you think of self-kindness, what comes to mind? I imagine you’d say: being gentle with myself, not be so self-critical and judgmental, being more understanding of my mistakes and failure. Sound about right?
While this is absolutely true, self-kindness is more than merely stopping self-judgment, it is also about actively comforting ourselves, much in the way we would a dear friend. It entails seeing CLEARLY the extent to which our continual self-criticisms are harming us.
If you’re like me, you may not even realize that you are being harshly critical or judgmental of yourself because it has become such a habit. And this is totally normal, you are not alone! Here are a few ways I have learned to practice self-kindness:
Using kind, caring, gentle language with yourself. This works even AFTER you’ve said something not so nice to yourself. Just take a moment and acknowledge that the situation sucks and speak to yourself as you would to a close friend.
Actively soothe and comfort yourself when things go wrong. If you are in pain or you fail at something, physically hug yourself. Be emotionally moved by your pain enough to say “This is really difficult right now. How can I care for and comfort myself best in this moment?”
Make yourself some comfort food. (I'm a nutritionist, you knew this was coming!) Hippocrates said: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. I know that the last possible thing you want to do when you are feeling down is to go into the kitchen and start making food. You probably want to reach for something quick, salty, high fat, high sugar, right? Something that undoubtedly comes from a package. Resist that urge and reach for the ultimate comfort food: CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING! It's incredibly delicious, so so simple to make and is good for you, too!
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled and seed removed
- ½ cup raw cacoa powder
- ½ cup maple syrup (can use raw, unpasteurized honey)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt (salt brings out sweet!)
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth
- Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving
- Makes roughly 1 ½ cups
Being kind to yourself doesn’t just include the thoughts in your head, it also includes the foods you choose to nourish yourself with. Rather than enter the vicious cycle of emotionally eating to avoid feeling pain, why not allow yourself to feel the pain, comfort yourself with kind words and gentle touch and then nourish your body with food that loves you right back?
Mull that one over and stay tuned for Friday's post on the second tenet of self-compassion: Common Humanity.
Over to you: what is one thing you SAY, DO, or EAT when you want to show yourself a touch of kindness? SHARE in the comments below.