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Mindful : February 2019
An explosion of research into self- compassion over the last decade has shown its benefits for well-being. Individuals who are more self- compassionate tend to have greater happiness, life satisfaction and motivation, better relationships and physical health, and less anxiety and depression. They also have the resilience needed to cope with stressful life events such as divorce, health crises, and academic failure, and even combat trauma. The reason I (Kristin) really know self-compassion works, however, is because I’ve seen the benefits of it in my personal life. My son, Rowan, was diagnosed with autism in 2007, and it was the most challenging experience I had ever faced. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it if it weren’t for my self- compassion practice. Because of the intense sensory issues experi- enced by autistic children, they are prone to violent tantrums. The only thing you can do as a parent is to try to keep your child safe and wait until the storm passes. When my son WHEN WE ARE MINDFUL OF OUR STRUGGLES, AND RESPOND TO OURSELVES WITH COMPASSION, KINDNESS, AND SUPPORT IN TIMES OF DIFFICULTY, THINGS START TO CHANGE. screamed and flailed away in the g rocery store for no discernible reason, and strangers gave me nasty looks because they thought I wasn’t disciplining my child properly, I would practice self-compassion. I would comfort myself for feeling confused, ashamed, stressed, and helpless, providing myself the emo- tional support I desperately needed. Self-compassion helped me steer clear of anger and self-pity, allowing me to remain patient and loving toward Rowan despite the feelings of stress and despair that would inevitably arise. I’m not saying that I didn’t have times when I lost it. I had many. But I could rebound from my missteps much more quickly with the help of self-compassion, and refocus on supporting and loving Rowan. When we are mind- ful of our struggles, and respond to ourselves with compassion, kindness, and support in times of difficulty, things start to change. We can learn to embrace ourselves and our lives, despite inner and outer imperfections, and provide ourselves with the strength needed to thrive. What Is Self- Compassion? Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time—even if your friend blew it or is feeling inadequate, or is just facing a tough life challenge. The more com- plete definition involves three core elements that we bring to bear when we are in pain: self-kindness, common humanity (the recog nition that everyone make mis- takes and feels pain), and mindfulness. For example, imagine that your best friend calls you after she just got dumped by 42 mindful February 2019 self-compassion