Are you good at showing compassion to others? How do you feel when someone else is suffering? For many of us, compassion for others comes naturally. But when it comes to self-compassion, it can be much harder. Why is this?
In this episode you’ll gain an understanding about why self-compassion can feel scary and threatening. When we really understand something, it becomes easier to see our own behaviors and learn how to navigate our own painful experiences and emotions.
Self-compassion can be difficult to develop, but is key to creating space within yourself to heal. Just as we would allow others their own feelings and struggles without judgement, when we can do the same for ourselves, true healing begins. We stop judging, expecting perfection, and just allow ourselves to be in the moment we are in.
Don’t miss this episode as you’ll learn three powerful questions to ask yourself when you are stuck in self-judgement. These questions can open you up to compassion, and ultimately to deeper healing.
I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast,
episode number 58, self-compassion.
Hello and welcome to the Heal From Infidelity podcast for courageous women.
They’re not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently living but
don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around
to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is that
possible? It is and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea Giles.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hi, friends. I hope that you are doing well this week. I had a completely
different episode in mind when I went to record and some things have
happened for me in the last little bit that have inspired me to take a
different route and record this one instead. So some things have happened
in my life in just the last little bit that have inspired this, that have
made me think about it, and I thought maybe it’s something that the rest of
you need as well. So as you all know, I am having a baby. It’s been a huge,
huge curve ball. Reality is starting to set in that come December I will
have a newborn and I will have a little one and for quite some time I have
had kids in school, I have had just different kinds of freedom that I have
enjoyed if I’m being honest. And so, it’s been a lot for me to wrap my head
around just starting over.
Also this year, we’ve had so much change. Two of our children got married.
One of my daughters left last fall on a mission for our church. She’s gone
for a full 18 months. She’s just reached the halfway point a little bit in
a goal but she’s out the door. I had one daughter just move out about three
weeks ago, she graduated and moved out. And so, there are just lots of
things that are changing. And for me, myself, I’m changing and not only
just physically as my baby grows that I feel all of these things have
presented opportunities of new growth to me, new areas that I am open to
and ready to lean into and grow, okay? Over this past weekend, I had some
things happen, nothing major, just some little things happen that took me
back to some times in my life where I felt abandoned or where I felt alone
or where I felt no one cared about some of the things that I cared about as
much as me and felt really alone in that.
And over the weekend, I really struggled. And there were some tears and
some times that I just really was trying to understand what was going on in
my brain. And yesterday I met with my own coach. So yes, the coach has a
coach. I love having my own coach because it allows me to set down my coach
hat and be the student and learn and listen, and to let other people look
inside my brain and see things that I can’t see, okay? So when I first got
on, I told her a little bit about some of the circumstances and then she
asked me some questions and I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions,
okay? I’m going to ask you, is this response due to conditioning? That’s
question number one. Question number two, is this a trauma response? And
question number three, why does it make perfect sense that you feel the way
you do and responded in this way?
And with all three of those questions, I really had to pause and really
think and take my brain there. And in all three with the first question, is
this response due to conditioning? It was a resounding yes. My brain took
me back to times in my life when I was young and felt dismissed or felt I
wasn’t allowed to really have an opinion, things like that. Is this a
trauma response? Yes. I felt my body shut down like it does when we’re
having a trauma response and I judged myself for it a little bit because
nothing really big happened. It was so interesting to watch my brain. It
was just this little thing that happened and my brain went there and it was
so interesting. And so, I went into judgment a little bit like what is
going on? And then, why does it make perfect sense that you feel the way
you do and responded in this way? And that one was a little bit harder for
me to find. But when I did find it, I felt relief. I felt relief.
And so, what I realized when I was being coached is that I was missing
self-compassion. Once I remembered, I relaxed, I realized what was
happening, and that I was okay, nothing had gone wrong. Remembering
self-compassion helped me ground back into myself, stop judging myself and
move forward. So I decided to talk to you today about self-compassion
because maybe you can relate to that. So what is self-compassion? We’re
going to dive into that, but first, what’s compassion? I went and looked it
up and the definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and
sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune accompanied by a strong
desire to alleviate the suffering. So essentially, we’re having a thought
about a person, we are feeling something, and then we’re following it up by
I really love that definition. I think it sums up compassion really well.
Feeling compassion compels us to do something, right? Now, I know for many
of you listening, compassion comes easily for you. It might be a gift that
you have, that is easy for you. In fact, some of you may judge yourselves
because you are able to have sympathy and compassion for your spouse who
was unfaithful and then use it against yourself. We judge how easy it is
for us to show them compassion and understanding and make it mean that we
are somehow weak. My question for you is, what if it’s a strength? What if
you being able to go to a place of compassion is a strength? So now let’s
talk about self-compassion. Why is self-compassion so much harder? I’m a
coach. I talk about these things all the time and I had to be reminded by
another coach that I was not practicing self-compassion.
I want to go into detail today about why this is so hard for so many of us
and how you can help yourself. And it’s been really interesting for me to
prepare this episode because it’s been very helpful to me as well in
reminding me of the areas where I can grow and the areas where I can show
myself more compassion. So when I decided to do this episode instead of the
one I had originally planned, I went and read articles. I watched a Ted
talk about the subject. I thought about it a lot, why my brain is so
resistant to go there. Then I found some really awesome thoughts and
answers that I want to share with you, okay? So the best article that I
found that I want to reference to today, it was really good, you can go
look it up if you like, it was in Psychology Today written by Dr. Bernard
Golden. The name of the article is What Makes Self-Compassion Such a Hard
Okay. So in this article by Dr. Golden, he refers to some other experts in
the field. One of them, her name is Kristen Neff, and she is a psychologist
and the author of a book called Self-Compassion and she is one of the
people that I watched a Ted talk by. She talked about the differences
between self-compassion and self-esteem and they are different. And she is
known as the go-to expert around self-compassion because she has studied it
so intensively, okay? So in this article where he quotes her, these are
some of the key components to self-compassion, okay?
Kindness with oneself. Self-compassion involves being kind to oneself with
regard to one’s mind and body whether supporting wellbeing or in response
to suffering, okay? Recognizing and honoring one’s humanity is recognizing
that our humanity involves being aware that all of us suffer, all of us
have flaws and make mistakes. Additionally, recognizing our humanity
further helps us to remember that we are not alone. Mindfulness.
Mindfulness helps us to not over identify with our suffering, so it can
have a little separation between us and our suffering. It also encompasses
non-judgment. As described by Neff, over identification occurs when our
emotions overwhelm us and cloud our perception of what’s really occurring.
And in this article, there’s this great quote. It says, “A moment of self
compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change
the course of your life.” That is Christopher K. Germer.
So what are the challenges to self-compassion? It was so interesting for me
to read this and I’ve known about compassion and self-compassion quite a
bit, and I talk about it a lot in my coaching. I talk about compassion a
lot, but I learned some things and I want to share them with you, okay? So
in this article, it talks about how this is such a hard thing to master.
Self-compassion can be really, really hard to master and some people become
very uneasy and some people even experience a dissociation with themselves
when they’re trying to be compassionate with themselves. It’s like they
step away and unengaged and like, “I’m not doing it,” like a separation
from self, okay? Some people just go numb. Some people judge themselves and
say, “I need to stop. I need to stop crying. This is very uncomfortable,”
and try to get out of leaning into self-compassion, okay?
Now, Christopher Germer is another therapist that is referred to in this
article and he says that it’s not so much that people are uncomfortable
with self-compassion, it’s more that self-compassion opens the heart to
receive it. And when we open our heart to receive it, we might be opening
our heart to some pain that may be dormant. It may awake the suffering of
old wounds that have not been fully acknowledged, grieved or mourned. Can
you understand why that would feel a little bit threatening? He says it may
rekindle hurt and sadness regarding unsatisfied longings for compassion in
earlier years, it may compete with our view that self-compassion is weak,
or can lead to a slippery slope of being too forgiving of ourselves, going
into a place where we’re like, “Ah, whatever anything goes,” and not
holding ourselves accountable and just taking what is and not trying to
move forward through things, okay? It may be experienced as threatening to
an inner dialogue founded on tough love, one that denies and minimizes the
need for such compassion.
So if our dialogue is all about perfectionism and pushing through and other
people can do that but not you, other people can make mistakes and can
falter and can this and that, but not you, you should be better. Well,
guess what. Self-compassion is going to butt right up against that, right?
It’s going to be hard for us to give ourselves compassion if we are hard on
ourselves and our brain. Self-compassion may be experienced as being
selfish or self-absorbed. Some individuals may feel undeserving of
self-compassion and as a consequence of these various factors, attempts to
evoke self-compassion can arouse shame which is a tendency to want to hide
or disappear, okay?
So from reading those things and sharing those things, I want you to pay
attention to where you land. Do any of those resonate with you? Do any of
them feel particularly difficult? I definitely resonated with some more
than others. For sure, for me, I have worked a lot through perfectionism,
but I still have things that pop up sometimes thinking that well, I’m a
coach, so I should be further along, I should be better, things like that.
And also, the part about rekindling hurt and sadness and sometimes my brain
really doesn’t want to go there just like the rest of you, right? We don’t
necessarily want to jump into those things sometimes.
So it can be our body and brain’s way of self-protecting to choose
suffering and to choose meanness and to choose judgment over experiencing
the pain of stepping into self-compassion and looking at why we might be
hurting. And there probably was a time in our lives where we decided to
shut down to our pain to go into survival mode. But the problem with this
is that we’re shutting down opportunities to heal at a deeper level which
self-compassion can do, okay? So as you are working through your own
challenges and trying to practice self-compassion, I’m going to give you
some things to look for to expand your own self-compassion, okay?
I want you to practice looking at the discomfort of turning up the volume
of the inner dialogue to identify the specific challenges to
self-compassion, okay. Look at them and almost objectively, how interesting
it makes sense, okay. It makes sense that you would react this way when you
look at the whole picture, when you look at the whole backstory, okay? Two,
take time to explore that backstory and work on grieving and mourning the
wounds associated with that backstory. Now, that might be the hardest part
because we are intentionally opening things up to feel, right? Number
three, slowly introduce self-compassion in incremental steps, making room
for acceptance. Number four, be fully present and compassionate with the
protective value served by resisting self-compassion. Okay, notice it. You
can have compassion around resisting self-compassion, right? Like, of
course, my brain is fighting against it, it doesn’t want to feel
uncomfortable, right? You can understand why our brain is doing that, okay?
Now, one of the exercises in this article that was given for building this
practice of self-compassion I really, really liked and I want to share it
with you, okay? So what they recommend is scanning back through your life
and looking at people who demonstrated compassion to you, people that you
could feel their compassion or it can be a movie figure, or it can be some
wise person that you don’t know personally, but that you can imagine is
someone that would look at you in a certain way and speak to you in a
certain way and offer you compassion, okay? I want you to gather a room of
these people and you’re in the middle of the room. They’re all around you,
okay? I want you to look at them, look into their eyes.
I imagine my mom and my sister. They’re, for sure, in my circle. I’m
looking at them and all I see is so much love. There’s not an ounce of
judgment. There’s not an ounce of you should be better, you should do
better. All I can see is love, that’s it, okay? I want you to do this too.
I want you to imagine this circle of people, they all love you so much,
they all know you, they all know who you are. What look do you see in their
eyes? What is it? Can you see it? Now, I want you to notice how you feel
when you’re looking at them, when you’re seeing the way they see you, the
compassion that they are offering you. I want you to imagine what that
feels in your body. Can you feel it? For me, it feels love, it feels
somebody is holding me, it feels I’m safe, it feels I’m okay, nothing has
And even as I’m recording this right now, I have my eyes closed and I’m
imagining my circle of people. And I can feel the love that they have for
me. Now, what do I do with that love? What do I do with that compassion? I
allow myself to feel it and then I practice giving it to myself. I practice
giving myself that gift of love and that gift of looking at myself through
that lens of non-judgment, through compassion, through, of course, you’re
struggling with this now, of course, this is coming up now and there’s
nothing wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. I can hear them saying to me, this
just means that you’re ready for the next level of growth and you are being
shown what that next level is. And that it’s a loving thing that I’m being
shown that, that it’s not meant to punish.
It’s meant to open me up to my own capacity, to my own greatness, to how
much further I can grow if I just surrender to self-compassion and open up
to some of the things that might just be ready for some healing. Maybe I
wasn’t ready before. So I want you to pay attention to how your body feels
when you’re listening to this. What does it feel like? Can you feel some of
that love? Can you feel some of that self-compassion? How can you create
more of that for yourself? Just like meditation or an exercise routine,
these are practices that take practice, right? It takes practice. It takes
repetition. It takes bringing your mind to this place over and over again
where you are creating for yourself. This place of calm, this place of
safety, this place of allowing your wisdom to shine through, not your
emotions but your wisdom, that you’re letting your wisdom lead.
Now, I want to end with this. Cultivating self-compassion is an act of
courage. It takes courage to be willing to go in and open the door to
painful things. It takes courage to see yourself. It calls for a
commitment. It calls for determining that this is something worth pushing
through. It is worth the work, it’s worth it because on the other side of
self-compassion is allowing yourself to grow, allowing yourself to see
yourself as you really are, and this will help guide you as you continue to
move forward in your own healing. That’s what I have for you today, my
friends. I hope that this is helpful to you. Let’s all go and practice
being a little more self-compassionate, okay? It’s worth it. This will
heal. The self-compassion and learning how to hold space for yourself when
you are hurting will help you to heal and to move forward. All right. Thank
you so much and I will see you next time. Bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.