Self Compassion vs. Self Pity
Updated: Aug 10, 2018
One of the greatest perks of my job is to have the opportunity to study and learn about anything and everything that may give others or myself a greater quality of life.
And lately compassion has been coming up over and over. And it all starts with self compassion. But what does that mean? Does feeling sorry for oneself qualify as compassion? Well let’s look it up! Upon reading a couple of books on neuroscience and some articles by credible authors I have concluded that it sure doesn’t! And really, who actually feels good after feeling sorry for oneself or for someone else for that matter?
“The hope of self pity may be to make someone else feel guilty enough to take responsibility for you. Self pity is a form of control…. by getting someone else to feel sorry enough for you, or guilty enough to take care of you” (Margaret Paul PH.D.)
“The downside of pity is that you are potentially seeing the person as being “less than” and may in some way contribute to their suffering.” (Tris Thorp)
“Like contempt, pity is a distracting response. Both add to suffering by making the victim feel alone.” (Diane Meriwether, author)
What does help? I mean…. bad stuff is going to happen to all of us…. but what are we going to do about it?
“Self compassion isn’t self pity, but is simply warmth, concern and good wishes” (Rick Hansen PH.D.)
“Fortunately there is a different and more skillful way to handle suffering. Compassion focuses on the present moment and deals with events/suffering that is happening here and now – if there is a splinter in a lion’s paw, compassion pulls it out” (Diane Meriwether)
Compassion deals with now and doesn’t seek out new ways to suffer.
“True agents of compassion, like Mother Theresa, never see the people they help as victims, rather as individuals who are going through painful moments.” (Tris Thorp)
“While the energy of self pity feeds on itself and takes you lower and lower, the energy of self compassion is powerful and uplifting” (Margaret Paul PH.D.)
“To curse the act of falling down on the path may be to curse the very thing you needed to experience to take you to the next step” (Yoga Sutras, Patanjali)
“To become happier, wiser, and more loving, sometimes you have to swim against ancient currents within our nervous system” (Rick Hansen PH.D.)
It is hard work. It isn’t natural for some of us with how we were raised. But don’t we owe it to ourselves, our kids, grand kids, friends, co-workers…. to be the best version of ourselves? To be a role model of how to live our best life so others can follow suit and live their best life.
Self compassion wins! Love and respect yourself so you can love and respect those around you.
So let’s break it down:
1 .Something happens, an event that brings out anger, sadness, remorse… etc
2. Be with it. Remember it is just a visitor, it isn’t who you are. (ie. I’m feeling grumpy as opposed to I ‘am’ grumpy.)
3. Relax your body, relax your shoulders, relax your heart, soften your heart. Show yourself some love.
4. Really be with it. Look at it as if it is standing right there beside you. How does your body feel? Does the event bring up a memory? An image? A feeling? … etc
5. Let the feeling run it’s course, don’t fight it or resist it. Let yourself go thru it so that you don’t get stuck in it.
6. And when you’re ready, bring to mind a loving, kind, warm thought. Something that brings you great comfort.
It is scientifically proven that treating yourself with compassion strengthens and grows your brain. Giving you a much better quality of life and chances are…. many more years of happiness, peace and joy.
And really, what could be better than that <3
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