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Watch this TedX Talk About Self-Compassion
"Is self-compassion the same as self-love? No."

"It [self-compassion] can be learned. It's a skill anyone can cultivate."

“The self-compassion perspective ... is saying, ‘There is a lot of pain in life, but you're doing the best you can.' You're not wrong for feeling the pain."
You might think self-compassion is nothing more than another new fad or something left over from another time or culture. This would be a giant misnomer, for self-compassion has received an enormous amount of research funds to prove whether or not it actually changes lives. It does. It will. It simply requires practice. Here, how to understand self-compassion and how to simply incorporate it into your lives.

According to Tara Parker-Pope in her article about self-compassion in the New York Times , "Being nice to yourself, particularly during a personal setback or a stressful experience, is known among psychologists as 'self-compassion.' It’s a simple concept—treat yourself as kindly as you would treat a friend who needs support—but it’s one that most people find exceedingly difficult to adopt."

“We tend to give compassion to others much more readily than we do ourselves,” says Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the field’s leading researchers and a professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas at Austin. “The good news is that it can be learned. It’s a skill anyone can cultivate.”

" W e need to offer ourselves kindness and support,
similar to how we would treat a close friend."

Parker-Pope states, "Self-compassion is rooted in centuries of Buddhist tradition, but it’s been only within the past decade that researchers, led by Dr. Neff, have subjected the concept to empirical scrutiny. Numerous studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly linked to overall well-being. Practicing self-compassion can reduce depression, stress, performance anxiety and body dissatisfaction. It can lead to increases in happiness, self-confidence and even immune function."

As William Anthony said, "There is another piece of peace, and that's having compassion for yourself. Compassion is the soul of peace, the power of peace, the path to peace, the life of peace, the source of peace, the answer to peace. We think about peace as an absence of pain, suffering, disease, hatred, violence, and war, when it's also about this presence of compassion."

Is self-compassion the same as self-love? No.

According to Dr. Neff, Williams and others, "self-love" is about loving who you are, appreciating who you are, and it can reach into accepting who you are and what you look like. It seems to work perfectly for people when everything is going well. And then ... what if hardship hits? If you are struggling and suffering, that's when the game can change. Self-love doesn't mean you're granting yourself a healing like self-compassion does. Self-love alone cannot grant you peace. In fact, some say that self-love without self-compassion can flip to criticism and self-hatred all too easily. For instance, a mom, who took care of everything until the death of her child impacted her abilities to do so, may start to doubt herself and feel like a failure.

Parker-Pope writes, "Despite the evidence that self-compassion can be good for us, many people resist it. 'One of the reasons self-compassion is hard is because we’ve been harshly judging ourselves for 20, 30 or 50 years,' said Mark Coleman, a clinical psychologist and  popular meditation teacher and author . 'The self-compassion perspective, in contrast, is saying that there is a lot of pain in life, but you're doing the best you can. You're not wrong for feeling the pain.'"

Does practicing self-compassion lead to
self-pity and suggest weakness?

Parker-Pope continues, "Dr. Neff notes that she often hears misgivings about practicing self-compassion. Some people worry that self-compassion is a form of self-pity and suggests weakness. They worry it will lead to self-indulgent behavior and undermine motivation. But studies show that when people practice self-compassion they tend to adopt healthier behaviors.

"The reality is that by being kind to ourselves, we become stronger, more resilient and less focused on our problems. In  one study of military veterans  who spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan, those who measured higher on the self-compassion scale were less likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, the presence of self-compassion was a better predictor of long-term mental health than how much combat action they had seen."

How do we practice self-compassion?

"In 2010, Dr. Neff and her colleague  Chris Germer , a clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, developed an eight-week mindful self-compassion program that has since been taught to thousands of people. In 2012, the Journal of Clinical Psychology published the  results of small clinical trial  (27 people) in which half the participants took part in the self-compassion course while the control group remained on a wait-list. The course takers reported significantly larger gains in self-compassion, mindfulness and well-being compared to the wait-list group, and the benefits were lasting, still there one year after the class ended, writes Parker-Pope.

"In an effort to reach more people, the authors distilled the eight-week course into the ' The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook ,' published by Guilford Press last summer. The workbook offers numerous writing exercises, guided meditations and informal practices to teach self-compassion.

"Dr. Neff notes that self-compassion does not come naturally to most of us and requires practice. To learn self-compassion, we must first mindfully acknowledge our pain in a nonjudgmental way. Then we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone, that imperfection is part of a shared human experience. Finally, we need to offer ourselves kindness and support, similar to how we would treat a close friend."


From her article in the New York Times, Parker-Pope writes, "Here are some exercises to help you improve your self-compassion skills. These exercises have been summarized for brevity here, but you can find more complete descriptions in the workbook or on  Dr. Neff’s website.

Take the self-compassion test

"Use this  short test developed by Dr. Neff  to gain a snapshot of your own level of self-compassion. If you score low, commit to learning some self-compassion practices. If you score high, continue to practice self-compassion to build on what you already have.

How do I treat a friend?

"Close your eyes and think about a time when a close friend came to you because he or she was struggling with a misfortune, failure or feelings of inadequacy. Now write down what you said. What tone did you use? Did your interaction include any nonverbal gestures — touching, hugs or other actions? Now think about a similar situation in which you were struggling. What did you say to yourself? Write it down. Now compare the two answers. Were you as kind to yourself as you were to your friend?"
Self-Compassion Workbook
Research shows that self-compassion is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to create health and happiness. Self-compassion motivates us to achieve our goals, cope with adversity, take responsibility for our actions, and care for others in a sustainable way

Three Aspects of Self-Compassion

  1. Self-Kindness - The way we would treat a good friend.
  2. Common Humanity - What does it mean to be human?
  3. Mindfulness - Being with what is in the present moment--being able to turn toward and accept that we are suffering in order to give ourselves compassion.
 So what can you do to practice more self-compassion?

     Keep a self-compassion journal
Each evening think about an area where you are struggling and focus on mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. First, mindfully acknowledge your pain. Write down the difficult feelings you have. (I’m worried about a mistake I made at work. I'm worried about what I said to my daughter. I just can’t seem to get my act together.)

Next, remind yourself of the common humanity of the situation. Do you know anyone else at work or in your personal life who has similar struggles?

Finally, write some words of kindness in response to the difficult emotions you are feeling. If you have trouble, imagine you are talking to a friend with a similar struggle. “I’m sorry you’re feeling frightened. It will be O.K. I’m here to support you. You are a good person. I know you did your best.”

Soothing touch
This exercise allows you to provide comfort to yourself. Since everyone responds differently to touch, find a physical touch that feels genuinely supportive during times of stress. As you think about an area of difficulty in your life, try one of these.

Place one or both hands over your heart or one hand on your heart and one on your stomach or both hands on your stomach--whatever feels most comforting to you. Another possibility is cradling your face in your hands. Wrap your arms around yourself as a gentle hug and/or stroke your arm gently.

Take a self-compassion break
Close your eyes and think of a situation causing you a mild or moderate amount of stress. (Don’t try to tackle your biggest problems right away.) Take a mindful moment and acknowledge your suffering. “This is stressful. This is difficult.” Remind yourself that everyone struggles. “Stress is part of life. I’m not alone.” Now soothe yourself by placing your hands on your heart or stomach or wrap your arms around your body. Now give yourself words of kindness. “May I be kind to myself. May I forgive myself. May I be strong. May I accept myself as I am.”

As Haemin Sunim explains throughout his book, self-compassion does not mean being selfish. It’s only when we take care of ourselves, he explains, that we can care for others.

“You deserve your care and attention,” he writes. “Treat yourself to a delicious meal, a good book, a nice walk with a lovely view. As you would invest in the person you love, so you should invest in yourself.”

Thanks to Tara Parker-Pope for her article. Parker-Pope is the founding editor of  Well , The Times’s award-winning consumer health site. She won an Emmy in 2013 for the video series  “Life, Interrupted”  and is the author of “For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage.”  @ taraparkerpope
Actress Tina Alexis Allen and Artist Gina Raphaela Turn Violence Into Meaning and Healing -
No More Violence Jewelry
Recently we received an email from actress, author, and activist Tina Alexis Allen. Many of you may know her as Shurn in the hit show “Outsiders.” Or you might know her as the author of her memoir, “Hiding Out.” What you probably don’t know is that she and her partner, Gina Raphaela, have taken their commitment to do something about violence to a whole new level. Their story is one of creativity, compassion, and healing.

Here is their story.
We liked the challenge of turning a symbol of violence
into something beautiful, something wearable,
as a way of taking a stand and giving back.
A few years ago, artist Gina Raphaela began creating socially conscious jewelry with her partner, Tina Alexis Allen, an actress and author (Shurn in “Outsiders,” activist and author of “Hiding Out.”) Thus began the "No More Violence" jewelry created by Gina Raphaela. No More Violence jewelry uses refurbished, inert bullets that are transformed into stunning and timeless designs. Proceeds support nonprofits that champion peace, inclusion and healing, the antithesis of what a bullet symbolizes. 

Both Tina and Gina have first-hand experience with trauma, loss, and violence and feel passionate about the importance of transforming pain into purpose. Tina, as chronicled in her memoir, “Hiding Out,” (Harper Collins) has healed from childhood abuse through years of therapy and performing various autobiographical works as an actress and writer. In addition, Gina’s father was a member of the Genovese Crime Family in New York, and she was raised in an atmosphere of physical violence. Clearly, Gina’s personal mission stems from a deep desire to promote peace and safety. 
After attending a speech by the Dalai Llama where he declared, “The world will be saved by Western women,” Gina and Tina heard that as a call to action to start paying forward their personal healing.

At the core, each piece of jewelry, handcrafted and made in America, represents transformation. For example, the butterfly necklace uses a harmless bullet as the body of the butterfly and is embellished with diamonds, symbolizing hope and possibility for transforming violence and pain into a new form that is free and fully alive. The Hope Necklace is a refined and artisanal crushed bullet with softened, feminine edges. “We liked the challenge of turning a symbol of violence into something beautiful, something wearable, as a way of taking a stand and giving back.”
The Butterfly Necklace
The Hope Necklace
We believe that safety is a universal right
and that everyone who has suffered any type of loss
or trauma deserves support in their healing process.
People of all walks of life, including men and women, wear Gina Raphaela jewelry, and it’s often a conversation starter as much as a symbol of healing for so many. “Most recently, a man who had unexpectedly lost his partner and who was dealing with intense grief told us that our Safe Necklace gave him solace, a daily reminder that he was safe in his aloneness and safe in his higher power’s hands.”

Recently, Gina and Tina joined forces with ShineMSD, the Parkland nonprofit that promotes healing through the arts. Together they created a special necklace to benefit the kids who suffered severe trauma from the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Proceeds from the sales of the “Parkland SAFE” necklace, support the student’s healing through arts programs.

“We believe that safety is a universal right and that everyone who has suffered any type of loss or trauma deserves support in their healing process.”

Gina Raphaela Jewelry is available online: Gina Raphaela Jewelry

The Safe Necklace
Benefits the kids who suffered trauma from the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
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