Self-Compassion

Self-Compassion

“We are good people who have unintentionally harmed others in accidents occurring on the roads, at work, at play, or around the home. I call us CADIs (Causing Accidental Death or Injury). Most of us feel grief, guilt, and distress about our accidents. Over time, we learn that our mistake does not have to define us.”

This quote, from Dr. Maryann Jacobi Gray, contains two especially important points. It recognizes how central the experience of guilt (what I did), shame (who I am), and distress are to those who have unintentionally caused the death of others, AND . . . that the mistake “does not have to define us.”

During the difficult period when the mistake may self-define a person, he or she tends to be very self-judgmental, self-critical, and lacking in compassion toward self.

For many, the road to healing from both guilt and shame has been paved with self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff notes, “Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time — even if your friend blew it or is feeling inadequate or is just facing a tough life challenge. Western culture places great emphasis on being kind to our friends, family, and neighbors who are struggling. Not so when it comes to ourselves. Self-compassion is a practice in which we learn to be a good friend to ourselves when we need it most — to become an inner ally rather than an inner enemy. But typically, we don’t treat ourselves as well as we treat others.”

Key to Dr. Reiman’s Unintentional Death Re-Visioning work is the cultivation of self-compassion and dispelling the MYTHS (Neff, 2018) that surround it:

  • Self-compassion just means throwing a pity party for poor me.
  • Self-compassion is for wimps; I have to be tough and strong to get through my life.
  • I need to think more about other people, not myself. Being self-compassionate is way too selfish and self-focused.
  • Self-compassion will make me lazy. I will probably just skip work and eat chocolate chip cookies all day.
  • I need to be hard on myself when I mess up.
  • If I let up, even for just one moment, I will never get to where I want to be in life. It’s what drives me to succeed. I have high standards and goals that I wish to achieve in my life.

Freed of these myths and with a set of skills learned with Dr. Reiman, individuals can significantly increase their self-compassion. Importantly, research repeatedly affirms that, in many cases, low self-compassion correlates VERY highly with multiple emotional and personal adjustment challenges. Greater self-compassion can contribute significantly to improved quality of life for the one practicing it — and for those in his or her orbit. 

It won't always feel this way.

Where can I find some ease within or around this experience — just as it is?