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Stages of Self-Compassion

Corina Andronache writes about the three stages of self-compassion and their larger implication in creating a better world when practiced.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us…Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion…” ~Albert Einstein~

We all experience times when life is challenging us in some unexpected fashion.  Life is not always what we want it to be.  It can take us to the top of the mountain just to drop us down the next day with no cushion to fall on. 

How do you respond to yourself when things go wrong?  Do you soothe and nurture yourself in a compassionate way when you feel sadness, grief, pain, frustration, anger and rage?  How do you treat yourself when you fail to deliver what you planned?  Are you sympathetic to yourself when you disappoint those that look up to you? 

In the next couple of days, the year 2011 is over.  How do you feel about yourself as we step into the New Year?  Do you feel you have accomplished all that you set out to do twelve months ago?  Do you judge yourself for still carrying on that weight, not having a job, not finishing school, not having a relationship?

As I am writing these words, I am doing my own inner re-evaluation of where I was a year ago and where I am now.  I can say to myself that I have failed in a number of ways and in the same time applaud myself for the things I have accomplished.  My critical voice wants to emphasize the things that are left undone, yet the nurturing voice reassures me that I’ve done the best I could.  Which voice does it win?  The one I feed the most.

Self-compassion is a choice.  With intention, we can choose to feed the nurturing and caring voice.  I am choosing to believe that at all times I have been exactly where I’m supposed to be.  The desire to change “what is” can become the source of my suffering.  Loving what is at all times is a true sign of self-compassion.  Not accepting reality as is will create a vicious cycle that will become difficult to overcome.  In the end, we would have to fight not only the reality of the unfolding events, but the thoughts, feelings and emotions associated with that situation.  Self-compassion requires us to learn how to be with what is in a way that we allow life to take its course and not go against the grain.

Learning to become compassionate is a process.  Unless we have been taught early on how to accept our feelings and emotions, we are growing up being unkind to ourselves for the way we think, feel and behave.  However, as we learn to practice self-compassion, we will have to travel the path gradually. 

Here are the stages most of us experience as we learn to become more self-compassionate as explained by Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D, in his book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion-Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.

Infatuation- Most of us have been so used to being unkind and demeaning to ourselves that we don’t even know what it means to feel good.  The fact that we allow ourselves to have positive feelings and emotions resembles the infatuation stage of a new relationship.  This phase eventually has to end, however it planted the seed of self-compassion.  Now we know how it feels to feel good and experience love.  At this primal stage, our critical voice could try to tell us that we are selfish or that we don’t deserve to feel good or be happy.  Please don’t feed the wolf that speaks doubt!  Believe that you deserve to feel good in your own body and in your own presence.

Disillusionment- Just as we believe that the old way of processing feelings is forever gone, here we are again experiencing our old self that feeds the unkind voice within.  Disillusionment appears because we try too hard to change our old ways.  We have not learned yet to allow the natural process of transformation to take root in us.  We want to do it all at once and be a self-compassionate being.  Wanting to feel good at all times will create much disenchantment with reality.  We will continue to feel disappointed if the practice of self-compassion is not allowed to carve its own way to the depth of our soul.  It cannot be rushed!

Acceptance- To arrive at acceptance takes a while.  Acceptance is a noble place within.  It is the inner state that allows us to be at peace, to feel free, to forgive, to love, to be!  It is the ultimate state that wise souls aspire for.  It is the let go stage, the surrendering of the egoic mind to the reality of life as it unfolds before our eyes just as it should.  At this sublime stage we experience the dichotomy of humanity as the only way to arrive at the Innate Intelligence that engulfs us all in its beauty.  When we learn to accept life as is, all useless fighting will leave us.  The desire to avoid discomfort might still have power over us, but now we have seen through it.  Now, we are self-compassionate to ourselves as the only way to be.  Accepting reality is the true acceptance and the main path to self-compassion.

It takes time to embrace true acceptance.  It takes many moments of infatuation, disillusionment, and even unbelievable exaltation, just to realize next day that you are back to disappointment and perhaps infatuation again.

But make no mistake.  If you keep at it, one day you will wake up and say: “I am free.  I matter so much that I choose to be self-accepting and self-compassionate.  I am worth all the love I can give myself.”

So, nurture yourself with the best loving-kindness you are capable of.  When you allow healing to take place in your own heart, in fact you heal the whole world.  As you are more compassionate with yourself, the feelings you experience engage the energy field that binds us all together.  Remember that we are always creating our reality.  How much better creators we can be creating from a place of self-acceptance and self-compassion…

“You hold the creative power of the universe within you.  The path you are on now is one where you are learning that you are far more than who you might have imagined yourself to be up until this point.  You are body, mind, and spirit.  You are matter, maker of matter, and experiencer of matter.  You are the vehicle, the driver, and the one who determines the quality of the ride.”

                                                                              ~Howard Falco~

Make the choice NOW to practice self-acceptance and self-compassion!  It is not in vain!

 

 

 

 

 

Edwin Rutsch December 31, 2011 at 06:17 PM
May I suggest a further resource to learn more about empathy and compassion. The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews,  videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion. http://CultureOfEmpathy.com I posted a link to your article in our Self-Empathy and Self-Compassion Magazine Latest News about Self-Empathy and Self-Compassion I'd like to invite you to lead an empathy panel in our: International Online Conference on: How Can We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion? http://bit.ly/nU0NXB
Corina Andronache January 01, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Edwin, thank you so much for the suggestion of learning more about compassion from your site. I took a look at it and I love it. I would love to lead an empathy panel about "How can we built a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?" Will be in touch with you soon. Let's help evolve 1 million minds and hearts in the New Year...Much appreciation to you for finding me.
Danny Miller January 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Corina, I agree with what you say about the importance of accepting ourselves as we are. Also very important is the need to accept others for how and who they are. This also allows us to focus on how we can improve our own lives spiritually and emotionally, and with that develop self-compassion. Also, when we accept life as it is and people for whom we are, our need to control diminishes significantly, and with that greater serenity flows into our lives. I write extensively about the many facets of the control dynamic on my blog and in my book, Losing Control, Finding Serenity. Danny Miller
Lumine Bellavonde January 01, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Your article is most excellent. I was very disappointed to find that the Einstein quote you used is synthetic. I would have loved to read an actual publication by Einstein containing anything like that quote but my research showed instead that nothing like it actually exists. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful idea regardless of its origins.
Corina Andronache January 02, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Mr. Miller, thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and leave a comment. I have taken the time to research about your work before I responded to your post. I love your work and your dedication to help people understand control and the importance of letting go and surrender to what is. Here I attach a link to your blog site if the readers want to find out more about the way your book can support their spiritual journey. http://losingcontrolfindingserenity.com/homepage Have a Happy New Year and will be in touch. I am looking forward to reading your book. Infinite Love and Gratitude...
Corina Andronache January 02, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Dear Lumine, thank you so much for for your compliments of my article. Your generous words mean a lot to me. I was intrigued by the fact that you mentioned I have used a synthetic quote. I have taken the time to do my own research, and with joy I have to tell you where the quote is from. Here is a link to the page and the book I found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Quotable-Einstein-Albert/dp/0691138176/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325460701&sr=1-14 In case the link doesn't work, you can find it in "The Ultimate Quotable Einstein" by Albert Einstein and Alice Calaprice. It is stated on page #340. After the quote it is said: "To Robert Marcus, a distraught father who asked Einstein for some comforting words after the death of his young son, February 12, 1950. In Calaprice, "Dear Professor Einstein, 184, Einstein Archives 60-424." I hope the information will reach you as I know you will be happy to find out that indeed these precious words are coming from Einstein. I am happy to discover this too. All my best to you and many thanks again for contributing to this board...
Iuditha January 02, 2012 at 02:19 AM
I don't know about others, but self-compassion is always a challenge for me. I believe forgiving ourselves and embracing what we don't want to accept in ourselves is critical for living a happy life.
Corina Andronache January 02, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Dear Iuditha, you have come so far...You have learned so much in the last few years...Self-love and acceptance is hard for most of us...we just have to keep wanting it and keep telling ourselves that we have done our best and believe it. The critical voice will try to show up always. It has been with us for so long. It wants us to believe that it is doing us a favor. But is not so! Eventually, the mind will take in the message and begin helping us become more and more compassionate with ourselves. Accepting ourselves at all times is critical to living a happy life. Thank you for your constant contribution on this board!
Sarah January 04, 2012 at 12:55 AM
They do say that if we do not love ourselves we cannot love others. I would love to read the book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion-Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. I seem to worry constantly and I need to stop it. This will be my New Years Resolution in addition to of course loosing weight. :}
Corina Andronache January 06, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Dear Sarah, your New Years resolution seems worthy of your effort. Living in constant worry rubs us off of the pleasure to enjoy the elusive moments of our lives. Living in fear will attract in our lives more situation that will reinforce what we already believe. They will become self-fulfilling prophecies. All my love to you and thank you so much for all the kindness you are showing me and for being here when I needed help. Love you...

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