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Being kind to yourself doesn’t make you a wimp

Self-compassion is the most direct path to spiritual presence. When you treat yourself with kindness, you can be lighthearted.

Afterglow by NancyKernAfterglow by Nancy Kern

Being kind to yourself opens space for you to embody your soul

When I encourage clients to be as kind to themselves as they are to the people they love, they sometimes look at me with confusion. “I feel like I’m letting myself off the hook,” they might say, or “if I don’t push myself I’ll never accomplish anything.”

In January, I published a blog inviting you to join me in practicing self-kindness as your New Year’s resolution. If you missed it or want to refresh your memory, you can read it here.

If you have been practicing, take some time to assess what results you are noticing. Please share them in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so.

If you haven’t been practicing kindness toward yourself, let today be Day 1.

If you started to practice and lost momentum, I invite you to begin again.

You may have learned long ago to be hard on yourself. “Being hard on myself is the way to get ahead. If I’m not hard on myself, I’ll be a couch potato.”

If you were frequently criticized as a child, you may have taken on criticizing yourself. Self-critical statements include: “whatever I do, it’s not enough.” “I could have done better.” “I just can’t get it right!” “I’m an idiot!”

Some people say that self-compassion is for wimps.

Let’s look at this idea closely.

What happens when you start a self-compassion practice?

You may discover walls in your heart – numbness that won’t allow you to receive self-compassion – or kindness from others, for that matter. Trying to practice compassion when you can’t receive it can feel dull, mechanical and lifeless.

When you find numbness or hear an “I don’t care” or “This is stupid” voice, slow down and pay attention to the sensations in your body. Does your chest feel tight? How about your throat? Your belly?

By hearing what your body is telling you, you can interrupt thoughts like “this is a waste of time” or “I can’t do this.” Thoughts are just thoughts – it doesn’t make them true.

Invoke your inner healer to help you continue. Don’t let not getting immediate results stop you. Like all practices, developing compassion takes time. Breathe, slow down and begin again, telling yourself that there is enough space for all feelings and thoughts that arise.

You may notice, “My chest feels tight. It’s painful.” There may be grief or sadness – or other challenging emotions. Tell yourself, “When other people feel like this, it’s hard for them, too. I’m not the only one.”

One day at a time, your resistance will soften. Your heart will gently open. Your body will soften physically.

When you release tension, flows that were blocked come unblocked – like releasing a river that has been dammed. Your energy flows open as well. You will start to feel whatever feelings have been stored in those numb, tight, hard places. These feelings have been held captive behind walls of tension. When the walls come down, feelings flow.

You may cry uncried tears. You may feel feelings you weren’t ready or able to feel at the time you suppressed the feelings. In order to feel these feelings, it helps to source yourself in self-compassion.

Feeling your feelings is definitely not for wimps! It takes emotional courage and presence to feel. At the same time, feeling your feelings builds emotional courage and presence – and both are fundamental to spiritual embodiment. As an extra benefit, feeling suppressed emotions and moving them through releases chronic tension – which improves your health.

The fluids in your body, blood, lymph, etc, are meant to flow – as are the electrical impulses of your nervous system. Tears open the gates to other fluid flows.

When you give yourself compassion, you develop the inner resources to feel. Whatever else you are doing – coaching, bodywork, meditation, yoga, dance – will be more effective.

If it is hard for you feel compassion for yourself, know that I care. I’ve been there. For many years, I was hard on myself. The first time a healer told me I was too hard on myself, I thought, “ha! If she only knew…. I’m not nearly hard enough on myself!” I thought I had her fooled because she saw me as deserving of kindness.

I’ve come a LONG WAY – by learning to be kind to myself.

If you have been hard on yourself your whole life – if you grew up in an environment of criticism, neglect or bullying at home or at school, you may have feelings waiting to be felt.

You can replace self-criticism with self-kindness – and watch the world become a kinder place.

You don’t have to do it alone. Being held in love and spaciousness while you cry can be profound.

I am here to hold space for you. To feel compassion for you and encourage you to try to feel kindness toward yourself. You can’t fail at this. It is a practice. If it seems difficult, that’s OK too.

Instead of being hard on yourself, be kind.

When you are having a hard time, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a beloved.

The good news is that feeling your feelings will free you to be more at ease in your own skin. You will have more ready access to your inner guidance. And yes, your spirit will soar.

Self-compassion is fundamental to Emotional Connection. Read more about emotional connection here.

You will open space to embody your soul – to Be the Divine Spark of Being you incarnated to be.

If you would enjoy affordable group support to boost your self-compassion practice, I am teaching a workshop at the Jung Center on Saturday, October 1. Learn more and register for “Journey from your Head to Your Heart” here. Select Nancy Kern from “select instructors” menu under the advanced search. Click on the link provided to read about the class and register. Or call 713-524-8253.

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posted in Emotional Connection, Spiritual Coaching
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jennifer Ettelson Besmehn August 30, 2016, 2:48 pm

    “When you treat yourself with kindness, you can be lighthearted.” This is a beautiful reminder. I am renewing my attention, intention to treat myself with kindness and compassion. Lately, I have been given several challenges in the form of struggles with other people. These struggles have awakened old feelings of being treated unjustly and unkindly. And I’ve been angry. This blog is just what I needed! I see now that the anger is hurting me. Like the old adage goes, “Resentment is drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Not nice. But true. I’ve been drinking poison. Again. : ) This self-kindness and compassion message is so powerful and needs to be spoken and heard over and over again. I forget. I remember. I forget…and so on. Today I hold myself with tenderness and joy, so grateful for the opportunity to remember.

  • Nancy Kern August 30, 2016, 3:04 pm

    I love this,Jenny. You are working at the core of self-compassion.

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