Self compassion is something we are hearing more and more of in recent times. I suppose you could say it has become a bit of a buzz term particularly in a time where practices like mindfulness and meditation have become much more mainstream. Self awareness is something which society is slowly opening up to and I for one think this is a fantastic step forward.
There are many people out there, myself included, who suffer with anxiety. Self awareness and self compassion are things I have had to learn over the past couple of years and as a result I can now manage anxiety a lot more effectively. I know what triggers it and recognise my own patterns (at least most of the time) but there will be times when I miss the signs and this is when self compassion becomes most important. The reality is that none of us are perfect, we all have flaws and we need to learn to forgive ourselves when we slip up. Just to be clear, I’m not saying this gives you licence to go out and be a self centred individual with no consideration for other people. What I am saying is that it’s okay to treat ourselves nicely, and I think Irish people in particular normally don’t. It seems that growing up in Ireland you are almost conditioned to be harsh on yourself. If someone compliments you, chances are you are going to deflect away from it in some way, belittle it, or do whatever it takes to simply get the attention away from yourself. Emotionally beating yourself up is commonplace and something most of us are guilty of, but it doesn’t really get you anywhere. We need to acknowledge our errors yes, but then we need to accept that we made the mistake, remember it for the future and move on.
Self compassion is basically learning to be nicer to yourself. Eating well, getting rest, exercising, knowing your limits with alcohol, actually going to sleep when you’re tired. All sound very obvious I know but you would be surprised at how much people tend to take these things for granted. Those are the physical aspects but the emotional ones are just as important. Recognising when you should and shouldn’t put yourself in certain situations is also crucial. Often people will put themselves in such an emotionally vulnerable situation where absolutely no good can come from it. They go ahead and do it anyway expecting a different outcome when in reality all that’s going to come of it is an experience that is totally detrimental to their own emotional well-being. Looking back on my own experiences I have undoubtedly put myself in scenarios where I was never going to win, and I didn’t. Did I learn? Yes! But they are situations I would never put myself into again, I wouldn’t even consider it. It baffles me now that I did them at all. Furthermore, realising the connection between your physical well being and the impact it has on your emotional state is something I have become increasingly aware of. The influence they have on each other is not to be underestimated.
People like Bressie are fantastic ambassadors for the topic of mental fitness and he doesn’t shy away from the reality of the situation. He is certainly fighting an uphill battle when some leaders of our country are clearly completely ignorant to the day to day lives of people in this country. Their financial concerns, the pressure and the worries they face are real and contribute massively to issues like anxiety, not to mention the physical effects this has on people’s bodies.
I suppose what I am trying to say is that no one else is going to look after your emotional well being for you nor can you look after someone else’s. It’s up to each person for themselves to recognise their limits and learning some self compassion is a good place to start.