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Discovering Compassion

compassion quote - mindulness

We’re hardwired to notice when our child suffers or feels pain. It hurts when our child is not okay. 

It is also hard when we fall short of our own parenting standards. The stakes are high.

Imagine the last time you were not the parent that you want to be... maybe you yelled at your child as a response to their tantrum - and you deeply regret your words. Maybe you had a hectic morning and dropped them off late for school – and you feel guilty.

It is easy to blame and criticize ourselves during moments like these. This reaction can make things worse.

We can respond another way.

Responding with self or inner compassion 

We can practice bringing compassion, instead of criticism or blame to these difficult moments.

Self-compassion does not mean just “being nice” to ourselves. It is an intentional response, and a loving act or attitude. When we act with self-compassion, we treat ourselves with the same respect and kindness we would offer a loved one who is struggling or experiencing a difficult time.

It can help to imagine how you would respond to a good friend or family member who is struggling:

  • What would you say?
  • What support might you offer?
  • What would you be careful NOT to say or do?

Self-compassion doesn't come easily, and don’t be surprised if you feel uncomfortable at first. Many of us struggle to offer this quality of kindness to ourselves. Self-compassion takes practice - so be patient with yourself!

Children also benefit when we model kindness and self-compassion. Our example teaches them how to be kind and forgiving towards themselves.  

Compassion can be strong and fierce 

Compassion is not only tender, but also strong. We can combine the energy of love and care for ourselves, with the energy of courage and bravery.

As self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff describes, “fierce self-compassion is like Momma Bear who ferociously protects her cubs when threatened, or catches fish to feed them, or moves them to a new territory with better resources.”

It is often easier to be compassionate towards others than it is towards ourselves. We can learn from our bear instincts and turn this fierce energy inward to stand up for ourselves. 

When we practice fierce self-compassion by setting boundaries and taking time for our own needs, this can help us to stay well and build resilience.  

Practicing self-compassion

Remember: the smallest act of self-kindness can transform a difficult experience.

Even holding an intention to bring awareness and kindness to our experience is an act of compassion.  

Where You Are Podcast

Through real stories, expertise, and practical tips, this podcast helps families promote their mental health and wellness, navigating important topics to meet you where you are in your journey.