By: Therese Barrett
Monday, April 5, 2021

James Reid Funeral Home
Grief Support Groups
Self Compassion
Therese Barrett
Monday, April 5, 2021

“Self-Compassion sounds like a good thing until we practice applying it.” Does this ring
true for anyone? Tonight we would like to help you to understand why self compassion
is so important for you and your well-being.

People tell us all the time to take care of ourselves. Do something nice for yourself. But
in the early days of our grief we can’t even begin to understand how we can think of
ourselves during such a difficult time. We have families to consider, paperwork to get
done, thank you cards to write, and the list goes on. All of this is exhausting and then we
add in the normal symptoms of grief, the emotional, behavioural, the physical and the
cognitive symptoms. Where do we find time for self compassion?

Protecting ourselves from self-compassion is often yet another way we try to buffer
ourselves from pain. Why? People are hesitant or resistant to self-compassion because
we’re afraid of two things.

1. It won’t work or make a difference, so Why Bother?
2. We’re often afraid of becoming more vulnerable that self-compassion will cause us
to feel the suffering even more.

What is self compassion?

• being kind to yourself
• caring about yourself
• treating yourself the way you treat other friends

So really, practicing self compassion is no different from the kind ways in which we treat
our friends and people we love. Self compassion involves acting the same way towards
ourselves when we are having difficulty, when we fail or when we just don’t like
something about ourselves. as we act towards others.

Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. How do we begin to show compassion for others?

• We notice that they are suffering (by ignoring the homeless person on the street,
we can’t feel compassion for how difficult their experience is)
• Being moved by other people’s experiences so that your heart responds to their
pain. (the word compassion literally means ‘suffering with’)
• By offering understanding and kindness during their difficult times
• By not judging others, by understanding that suffering, failure and imperfections
are all part of the shared human experience. We have all heard of the saying,
“There, but for the grace of God, go I” (attributed to John Bradford - 1510 -1555)

When we are in grief, we tell ourselves that we need to pull up our socks and move forward. We remember people telling us that it’s time to continue living.

Instead of getting caught up in what others say to us, we need to stop judging and criticizing ourselves. We need to remember that we are not perfect and then stop and begin to show ourselves love, kindness and understanding.

Psychotherapist Kristen Martinez likes to use the “permission slip” metaphor, which is
the idea of giving ourselves permission to make a mistake—as a way of accepting
however we are feeling, and acknowledging that other people feel or have felt this way

In her article on self compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff talks about 3 elements of self-compassion.

Self-kindness versus self-judgement:

What do you think this means?

• Being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel
inadequate rather than ignoring our pain and self-flagellating with self-criticism.
• Recognize that we are imperfect and that failing and experiencing life difficulties are
• Being gentle with ourselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than
getting angry when life falls short of our set ideals. People cannot always be or get
exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering
increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism. When this reality is
accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.

Common humanity vs. Isolation:

We talk a lot about how Covid has made us feel isolated. But Dr. Neff points out that grief is one of those devastating experiences that can also cause isolation. How can we feel isolated in our grief?

• Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an
irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” were the only person suffering
or making mistakes.
• All humans suffer, however. The very definition of being “human” means that one
is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect.
• Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is
part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather
than being something that happens to “me” alone.
• People compare their losses, measuring their suffering with another, or saying,
“No one understands me (us)”.
• This is what we learn by attending support groups. We learn that we are not
alone in our feelings. Just knowing this gives us permission to have self

Mindfulness vs. Over-identification.

We have all heard about mindfulness, so what does it mean?

• Being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without
interpretation or judgment.

What about over-identification? What does this mean?

•The action of identifying oneself to an excessive degree with someone or something else, especially to the detriment of one's individuality or objectivity

Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness.

Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it
simultaneously. Mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and
feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Dr. Neff’s research shows a positive correlation between self-compassion and

psychological well-being. People who have self-compassion also have greater social
connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Selfcompassion
has also been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame,
and fear of failure.
A few ways to begin self compassion and stop being so hard on yourself:
• Treat yourself like a child. We all have compassion for a child when they are
hurting. Think about how you would treat a child who just lost their favourite
thing. How would you show them compassion?

• Use mindfulness. Connect with your inner voice. Try to identify how it has helped
you in the past.
• Remember that you are not alone.
• Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
• Attend groups and connect with people who will “get” how you are feeling help
you to know that you are not alone. They will also help you to know that you are
worth self compassion.

What are the benefits Of Self-Compassion
• It increases motivation.
• It boosts happiness.
• It improves body image.
• It enhances self-worth.
• It fosters resilience.
• It reduces mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and stress.
“If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love
somebody else?” –RuPaul

Self Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff: retrieved from -
Balancing Selflessness and Self Care in Grief: retrieved from -

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