Kindness starts with the self

First introduced to the concept by Hanny Allston, while listening to the Find Your Feet Podcast, self-compassion can be a somewhat nebulous term. Hanny describes a conversation with her performance psychologist,

β€˜What do you do for self-compassion?’ he enquired with that intense focus that makes you squirm. β€˜I had a massage last night,’ I mumbled in reply, grateful for this worthy evidence of my self-compassion practice. After a few minutes silence he replied, β€˜For self-compassion or physical recovery?’

― Finding My Femininity, Hanny Allston, Jan 2017

I was a little dismissive at first, believing it sounded a bit too much like a “self-help” bestseller title. However, the idea just got stuck in my head, a feeling of an instinctive understanding. Hanny’s anecdote described what self-compassion isn’t, this kind of inverse logic does my head in, so I came up with my own definition.

Self-compassion is an unconditional kindness and empathy towards oneself, providing a resilient confidence in adverse circumstances. Permission to enjoy life without fear of judgement or failure, and the knowledge that self-worth is independent from the validation of others.

Too often we define ourselves by a job description, favourite pop culture reference or an Instagram following. At our core is a set of values governing our choices.

An important relationship exists between self-compassion and decision making. We can get bogged down trying to determine the “optimal” path forward, and while making a list of pros & cons when buying the new iPhone is relatively trivial, personal decisions, such as a breakup or career change, can be challenging.

Think back to a decision you regret. Remember your past self, your age, your experiences, your headspace and the information available at the time. Could you’ve made a different decision? Unlikely. The right decision is the one you make in the moment. Think too far ahead and you risk becoming paralysed by fear.

Be kind, show some self-compassion, and take it one decision at a time.

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