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Mindful : February 2019
forusaswellaswecando it for ourselves. • Most of us have dreams and aspirations that we would like to realize in this lifetime. We also have smaller, short-term goals. Self-compassion motivates like a good coach, with kindness, sup- port, and under- standing, not harsh criticism. A common thread through all these practices is a friendly, caring attitude. Some- times compas- sionate care for ourselves takes the form of solace and a soft leaning in to difficult emo- tions (comforting); some- times it involves a stern “ No!” and turning away from danger (protecting). Sometimes it involves letting our bodies know everything is OK with warmth and tenderness (soothing), and sometimes it means figuring out what we need and giving it to ourselves (providing). Sometimes having self-compassion requires being accepting and open to what is (validating), and sometimes it means we need to jump up and do something about it (motivating). Consider the experience of Xavier. Xavier didn’t have a lot of drive, but he had a tender heart. He became adept at avoiding conflict by staying TRUTH: Actually, self-compassion provides the safety needed to admit mistakes rather than needing to blame someone else for them. Research shows self-compassionate people take greater per- sonal responsibility for their actions and are more likely to apologize if they’ve offended someone. FEAR: Self-criticism is an effective motivator. TRUTH: It’s not. Our self-criticism tends to undermine self-confidence and leads to fear of failure. If we’re self-compassionate, we will still be motivated to reach our goals—not because we’re inadequate as we are, but because we care about ourselves and want to reach our full potential. Self-compas- sionate people have high personal standards; they just don’t beat themselves up when they fail. The Yin and the Yang of Self- Compassion At first glance, compassion may seem like a soft qual- ity, associated only with comforting and soothing. Mindful self-compassion contains a wide variety of practices and exer- cises that each person can explore to discover which ones work best. Some practices fit more into the yin category and some into the yang cate- gory, although most have aspects of both. Consider what attributes you might need to draw on the most right now. The yin of self-com- passion contains the attributes of “being with” ourselves in a compas- sionate way—comforting, soothing, validating. • Comforting is something that we might do for a dear friend who is struggling, especially by providing sup- port for his emotional needs. • Soothing is also a way to help a person feel better, and it refers particularly to helping a person feel physi- cally calm. • Validating helps a person feel better by understand- ing very clearly what she is going through and saying it in a kind and tender way. The yang of self-com- passion is about “acting in the world”—protecting, providing, and motivating ourselves. • The first step toward self-compassion is feeling safe from harm. Protecting means saying no to others who are hurting us or to the harm we inflict on ourselves, often in unconscious ways. • Providing means giving ourselves what we really need. First we have to know what we need, then we need the conviction that we deserve to get our needs met, and then we have to go ahead and try to meet our needs. No one can do this SELF- COMPASSION MOTIVATES US TO REACH OUR GOALS—NOT BECAUSE WE’RE INADEQUATE AS WE ARE, BUT BECAUSE WE CARE ABOUT OURSELVES AND WANT TO REACH OUR FULL POTENTIAL. 46 mindful February 2019 self-compassion