“We are not the survival of the fittest, we are the survival of the nurtured.”
~ Louis Cozolino
Even more than ever we need to magnify the nurturing of all things in order to heal, and a key to this is to begin with yourself. To practice self-compassion can bring about a deep nurturing for the world and all species living on the planet. Specifically, practicing the three steps of self-compassion that Dr. Kristin Neff speaks about, mindfulness, seeing the common humanity and sending kindness can bring a softening to the pain and suffering being experienced in your life, as well as, providing an opening and a connection to others in their suffering. This may seem counterintuitive or it might even go against what you might have been taught. Often, I hear from those I work with, that to care for oneself, to practice self-compassion, is to be ‘selfish’, or is thought of as being self-centred or even more ostracizing, to be narcissistic. Who wants to be labelled selfish, self-centred or narcissistic? I would venture to say that these labels keep us segregated from our true healing and from each other.
Self-compassion can unite us. Now, practicing self-compassion doesn’t mean striving and having yet another thing we put on ourselves as we “should” do, or I “shouldn’t feel this way", or “I deserve to do this or have this ”or “ others have it worse than me”, Dr. Kristin Neff speaks of this as diluting self-compassion, it doesn’t work with these conditions. Instead true self-compassion involves a need to directly recognize that something is hurting right now. Saying to yourself something like, “I am suffering, and this hurts”, “this belongs right now”. The practice of RAIN, helps with this connection to oneself for healing. First, Recognize that this is suffering; Allow it to be there, not to judge it or fix it, bravely let it be there; Investigate the suffering, being curious about it, not in a thinking way, but in an embodied way, how does your body feel with this suffering, and ask yourself, what does your being need right now to be Nurtured? Tara Brach speaks to this practice in her new book Radical Compassion and shares that after RAIN practice there is a blossoming of space in ourselves and for others.
For those who have trauma and/or childhood adverse experiences, (and this is more widely prevalent than we might think), the first step of self-compassion might mean to provide yourself with some kindness, some safety with mindfulness and then recognizing the common humanity in that experience. This may mean mindfully recognizing the need to say YES to your NO; this is different than shutting down the experience of suffering, instead be aware of your suffering, and mindfully with kindness placing some boundaries of safety for yourself in that moment. It is okay to be with your NO, this is kindness to oneself.
Self-Compassion notes and resources: