By Miranda Massie on December 5, 2018
Imagine you have a close friend who is feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and they ask for your advice. What words of encouragement and support might you offer?
- “You’re doing great.”
- “Look at what you’ve accomplished.”
- “Give yourself a break.”
- “Take some time for yourself.”
- “What can I do to support you?”
Now imagine it is you that feels stressed and overwhelmed. Would you say these same things to yourself? Chances are, probably not. Typically, we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Finding ways to be kind to ourselves is especially important at busy times of the year like this.
Self-compassion is strongly linked to our wellbeing. It can reduce negative mind states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, perfectionism and shame. It can also increase positive mind states like life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, and gratitude.1
Three ways to enhance self-compassion:
1. Reframe negative thinking patterns
Our minds produce a constant stream of thoughts, a large portion of which are negative. A key to reducing the impact that these thoughts have on us is to identify negative self-talk and to reframe it towards the positive. For example, when you are being hard on yourself, notice these thoughts and ask yourself if you would say these things to someone you love. If not, why would you say them to yourself?
2. Focus on your practical wisdom
Sometimes it can feel like we are coming up short in aspects of our lives. When facing these thoughts, focus instead on your practical wisdom.2 We are all experts in something so discover what it is that gives you a sense of mastery and play to those strengths. Often these are skills and character traits that go unrecognized or underappreciated like empathy, intuition, altruism and self-reflection.
3. Acknowledge your emotional labour
We give a lot of ourselves to others, to our jobs, and to our communities — often doing so without realising or acknowledging the emotional energy that it requires. The emotional labour and effort we exert in managing and regulating our emotions in our personal and professional lives can impact our wellbeing.3 Acknowledging these efforts is a way of cultivating compassionate towards ourselves.
Other easy ways to practice self-compassion:
- Watch this two-minute video for tips on practicing self-compassion.
- Listen to this 10-minute guided meditation for self-compassion.
- Get ideas for enhancing self-compassion with these articles: Give the Gift of Self-compassion, 5 Ways to Thrive Today, Tomorrow and Beyond and Treat Yourself: Why you Deserve a Gift this Holiday Season
This busy holiday season, I invite you to be kind to yourself as well as those around you. Find ways to see the common humanity amongst us all and treat yourself with the same compassion and care that you do the people you love.
Warmest wishes to you, your colleagues and your loved ones this season.
All my best,
2 Eastman, C. A. (2016). Improving Workplace Learning by Teaching Literature: Towards Wisdom. Switzerland: Springer Nature. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29028-7
3 Bierema, L. L. (2008). Adult learning and the emotional self. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 120, 55–64. http://doi.org/10.1002/ace
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged care, compassion, editorial, emotional labour, gift, Holidays, overwhelm, Relaxation, rest, self-care, self-compassion, thinking, wisdom | Leave a response
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2017
In the true spirit of the holiday season, I feel it is important that I not only be honest with myself, but with you as well. This fall was tough: it was probably the most demanding, hectic and draining fall that I have experienced in many years, at work and in my life outside of work. The upside is that I’ve been able to share my wellbeing work with large numbers of the UBC community, and that I’ve handed in my last school paper for the semester. It was a rewarding and meaningful time, both personally and professionally, and I hope the same is true for you. Even so, I’m conscious of the fact that my personal gas tank is hovering on empty as I push myself towards the finish line that is my holiday break. As we find ourselves in the middle of yet another busy season (one that is sometimes overshadowed by consumerism, busyness and all manners of excess), I’m experiencing a lot of internal questions:
Could I be doing more? Should I be doing more? Why do I feel guilty when I’m not working or studying? Have I let others down? Am I capable? What should success look like?
In sharing these vulnerable thoughts and insecurities recently with friends and now with you, I’m reminded of a practice that is often overlooked but one imperative to our survival – especially at this time of year: self-compassion.
Practicing self- compassion
What is self-compassion?
It is taking the time to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat a loved one, whether they’re two-legged, four-legged, winged, etc. It is acknowledging that we, too, deserve care and comfort during stressful and difficult times. It is the act of silencing our inner critic in the hope of accepting that we are entitled to a break.
Why is it important?
Self-compassion has been strongly linked to wellbeing. It can lead to reductions in negative mind states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, thought suppression, perfectionism and shame. It has also been found to increase positive mind states like life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, curiosity and gratitude .
How do you start?
- Practice self-kindness instead of self-judgement.This means accepting our imperfections with empathy instead of shame and criticism. The more we cling to aspirations of perfection, the more we judge the end result. Recognize and value the massiveness of what we try to do each day and know there will be situations, histories and events beyond our control and that these are not a reflection of our worth or character.
- Look for common humanity instead of isolation.This involves acknowledging that we may face difficult situations, but we are not alone in doing so. Trials and tribulations are part of the common human experience, and they are ones that we do not have to face alone.
- Try mindfulness instead of over-identification. This is working to process negative emotions in a constructive way in order to avoid emotional reactivity and negative thought patterns. Reflect on how you are more than your external achievements and that internal accomplishments are worth just as much.
Want to learn more?
Watch this two-minute video for tips on practicing self-compassion
Or, listen to this 10-minute guided meditation for self-compassion:
This holiday season, as a reminder of the true meaning and spirit of this time of year, I invite you to give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Take it slow and be kind in your expectations of the self. Cut yourself some slack. Find new ways to silence that internal critic and replace it with a voice of kindness and charity. And I promise to try and do the same for myself as well. As 2017 closes, let’s get ready to meet the New Year with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Posted in Editorial, Miranda Massie | Tagged editorial, generosity, kindness, Mindfulness, Miranda Massie, patience, recharge, rest, self-care, self-compassion, spiritual health, Support, survival | 3 Responses
By Miranda Massie on December 7, 2016
Welcome to December everyone! However hectic your fall term may have been, I hope it was meaningful and filled with success. We now find ourselves getting ready to launch into another busy season, one that can sometimes be overshadowed by consumerism, gift buying and all manners of excess.
I saw a really great ad the other day that urged: “Create memories, not garbage this holiday season”. In keeping with the newsletter’s theme of spiritual health this month, I want to share a gift with you that I hope will serve as a reminder of the true meaning and spirit of this time of year. My wish is that this gift will support you in making wonderful memories with family and friends as we approach the new year.
Give yourself the gift of self- compassion
What is self-compassion? It is taking the time to treat ourselves the same way that we would treat a loved one or dear friend. It is acknowledging that we too deserve care and comfort during stressful and difficult times. It is the act of silencing our internal critic in the hope of accepting that we, like everyone else, are human and entitled to a break.
Experts believe that self-compassion involves three main actions:
- Self-kindness instead of self- judgement: Accepting our imperfections with sympathy instead of shame and criticism. The more we cling to aspirations of perfection, the more we judge the end result.
- Common humanity instead of isolation: Acknowledging that we may face difficult situations, and that we are not alone in this. Trials and tribulations are part of the common human experience.
- Mindfulness instead of Over-identification: Ensuring that we process negative emotions in a constructive way in order to avoid reactivity and negative thought patterns.
Why is this important? I am reminded of the saying “Charity begins at home”. I believe that compassion begins within. In order to truly experience compassion and kindness for others, we must be willing to do the same for ourselves. We at UBC are fortunate to work with some of the most amazing, selfless and dedicated colleagues on this campus. If we truly want to continue supporting colleagues and serving students, we also need to be willing to go to bat for ourselves.
This holiday season I invite you to give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Cut yourself some slack. Silence that negative critic in your head and replace it with one of kindness and charity. Forgive yourself. Leave pessimistic self-talk and resentment behind and as 2016 closes, prepare to greet the New Year with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged care, compassion, editorial, forgiveness, giving, Holidays, humanity, kindness, Mindfulness, Miranda Massie, self-care, self-compassion, spiritual health, Support, UBC, work | 2 Responses