Whatever the circumstances of your accident, you are suffering and deserve compassion. A special challenge at this time is striving for self-compassion, even as you hold yourself accountable for the harm done. How would you treat a friend or family member in your situation? You would probably be gentle, loving, and patient. Can you extend this same love and kindness to yourself?


What We Mean by Self-Compassion

Self-compassion means that we reject the harsh, self-punishing, shaming voice inside us. Instead, we acknowledge our mistakes and our feelings with kindness. One definition we like is, “Self-compassion is acceptance of ourselves while we are in pain.” Self-compassion does not mean evading responsibility, numbing our pain, or avoiding our feelings.

Reflections on Self-Compassion

What You Can Do: Listen to Yourself

Pay attention to your inner dialogue and the messages you give yourself. Are you harsh and punishing toward yourself? Do you tell yourself that you are bad, that you deserve to suffer, or that you should get over this on your own? What might you say to a friend who said these things about him or herself? Can you extend the same kindness to yourself? The depth of your despair is evidence of your caring. Recognize that you carry love in your heart.

What You Can Do: Mindfulness

You don’t have to move to an Ashram in India to pursue mindfulness. When we are mindful, we are aware and accepting of reality. Instead of avoiding or judging our pain, we do our best to accept it. The opposite of mindfulness is running away from our feelings or criticizing ourselves for having them. When we do this, we are left feeling even worse. You can find dozens of “how-to” guides to mindfulness on the web, but all mindfulness methods start with noticing and accepting.

Radical Compassion

Dr. Tara Brach offers a 4-fold approach to Radical Compassion, which you can remember as RAIN.

  1. Recognize what’s going on. Stay aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
  2. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is. You don’t have to fix or avoid anything.
  3. Investigate with interest. Let yourself be curious about your thoughts, and feelings.
  4. Nurture with self-compassion. Be kind to yourself.

From Our Participants

“Often we leave ourselves defenseless against our own recriminations, saying terrible things about ourselves that we would not even reserve for our worst enemies… It is vitally important to learn to forgive, both others and ourselves.” 

“If I can find compassion for others in their mistakes, I can fight through my struggle to find compassion for myself.” 

“Our capacity for compassion and forgiveness is one of the most wonderful things in this world, and just as others extend it to us, we must remember to extend it to ourselves.”

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