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How Self-Compassionate Are You?

Before you can answer that question, it might help to define what self-compassion is. Compassion is recognizing suffering combined with the desire to alleviate it. Self-compassion, then, is noticing when you are suffering and desiring to do something to lessen that suffering. It can help to think of how you would treat others. If you wouldn’t talk harshly to a friend or loved one who is suffering, then that is an indication that you should not talk to yourself that way.

So why does it matter how much self-compassion you have? Well, it has a direct relationship to physical and mental health. When we are harsh with ourselves, or self-critical, it activates our fight-or-flight system. It releases stress hormones, which has been linked to heart disease. Talking harshly to ourselves is likely to contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. When we are self-compassionate, we calm the fight-or-flight response. Even more than that, because self-compassion activates our mammalian care system, it can release oxytocin (a hormone which helps us to know we are safe) and endorphins (which improve mood).

It seems to me that these are some compelling reasons to make an effort to cultivate self-compassion. The good news is that research has shown that within just a few weeks of effort, you can increase your amount of self-compassion dramatically. I recommend Kristin Neff’s Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook if you are interested in learning more about self-compassion and how to develop yours. Find out what your level of self-compassion is here: https://self-compassion.org/self-compassion-test/ Don’t despair if your self-compassion is low. You can increase it! After you’ve done work on increasing your self-compassion you can re-take the assessment and see that your efforts have been successful.

I’m big on self-compassion. With the types of trauma that I work with, it is common for the people I work with to be very, very hard on themselves. One part of what I do is to try to gently and slowly help people cultivate self-compassion. Self-compassion can free you from many mental traps that may be keeping you stuck. If you are interested in working with me, call or text me at 816-226-4678 and let’s arrange a free 15-minute consultation to see if we would like to work together.

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