Don't wait until you're burned out to practice peace🧘🏽‍♀️ Cool The burn with the free root cause quiz🙋🏼‍♀️start the quiz
Hiba Khatkhat Video Thumbnail

Level Up Your Happiness With Self Compassion

Compassion is both an outcome of and a tool for healing. Today, I watched a video of a woman creating a secret underground tunnel that’s liveable in the wilderness with three fundamental tools. It was a reminder of how creative and resilient you can be when you have the right tools. And what amazing things you can bring to life when you learn how to use them. Witnessing her was a seemingly simple but crucial reminder amidst the continued state of the world, in which the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, amongst other painful news. 

My first reaction to the overturning, and to quote the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, “This is some bullshit.”

This devastating decision, to me and for people like me, is yet another way the world can lack compassion. You can quickly get stuck in grief, defeat, and hopelessness when faced with this. Getting stuck prevents you from seeing the opportunity for rebuilding that comes after that. I could’ve gotten stuck in the limited resources the woman had in that video. 

I had to dig deep into my self-compassion to pull myself out of these reactions. I also connected with my community (the people who would get the depth of this). Compassionate connection with yourself and others allows you to find your sense of renewal and generate hope, dignity, and freedom.

You become a better change-maker when you don’t deny your anger and sadness about what’s happened. You pay attention to it AND focus on personal renewal and healing as tools for rebuilding (at the same time). This compassion inspires you to be resilient to your circumstances and work towards the change you want. 

This week, consider compassion for yourself and others as a tool for connection, renewal, change, and oneness. 

What Compassion Is and What It’s Not

Compassion has become a buzzword over the years. Sometimes you may not fully know what people mean when they say “be compassionate.” Or you could mistake self-compassion with self-esteem (Hint: They’re not the same!).

Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the first people to study and define self-compassion, explains it in 3 elements:

  • Kindness 
  • Connection/Common Humanity
  • Mindfulness/Presence

Kindness (vs. Self-Judgment)

Being kind and compassionate towards yourself and others is not about ignoring your pain and suffering or the pain and suffering of others. It’s also not about criticizing. It’s about honouring and understanding yourself and your experiences with warmth and openness. By extension, you would be able to do the same for others.

This type of compassion helps you to make sense of what’s going on for you (aka self-validate). It’s saying to yourself, “it makes sense why I feel this way.” When you engage in this type of acknowledgement, you become more aware. Remember: Acknowledgment is not agreement, approval, or liking. 

Cultivating kindness helps to reduce criticism towards yourself and others. When you’re in this mindset, you show up more empathetically in your life. You can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and appreciate their perspective. You can understand even if/when you disagree. You can face truths about yourself and others in a caring way through compassion.

Connection/Common Humanity (vs. Isolation)

When you’re able to understand, you connect and reduce your isolation. Through this, you connect to the universality of the human experience. And you can start cultivating more meaningful connections. This is why self-compassion is NOT: self-pity, selfishness, self-absorption, or self-esteem. 

I remember watching an interview with Mandela on the Oprah Show in my late teens. In it, he spoke about being honest with yourself to have an impact and change what you want to change. And he talked about humility as an essential part of being your own peacemaker - within yourself. As I reflected on this, I realized he was talking about compassion. In this case, I realized self-compassion is actually about truth and reconciliation with yourself! The result is that you embrace yourself, and people embrace you.

Mindfulness/Presence (vs. Over-Identification)

For compassion to thrive, it needs mindfulness and presence. This element is about attuning to your internal experience without getting too attached. If you do, you can start to over-identify and get too absorbed in it. It’s that delicate balance of awareness of what’s inside and outside you. Therapists call this dual-awareness. Mindfulness practitioners call this equanimity. In this state, you are receptive to yourself and your experience while observing without suppressing or denying it. You have poise, stability, and composure without rejecting your pain. 

So, What Does All of this Look Like in Practice?

Self-compassion is showing up for yourself fiercely and radically in extraordinary and ordinary ways. These elements help you do just that. But self-compassion may not always feel good because it includes embracing your pain and wounds. So it’s important to know that self-compassion is about good intentions, not good feelings. Good intentions have support, love, care, non-judgment, and patience. Compassion for others works the same way.

Whether you’re new or experienced in practicing compassion, remember:

Love and respect yourself
From The Four Agreements 48- Card Deck that I use for regular inspiration
  • You can practice compassion in ordinary ways: a cup of tea, petting your dog or cat, spending time in nature, placing your hand on your heart, having fun, laughing, and resting.
  • Compassion is not a passive state - A big misconception about compassion because it looks gentle and quiet. You can easily mistake it to mean passivity or non-participation. That is not the case at all! It’s about being measured in your actions and decisions. 
  • Sometimes the caring thing is to pull back temporarily. This time-limited shift is different from suppressing or denying your experience. Pulling back “for now” is kindness to yourself. It prevents flooding. Flooding is when you get more overwhelmed with your experience, making you feel worse. It makes it more difficult to find and maintain your presence and equanimity. In other words, overdoing can deplete you and get in the way of what you’re trying to do.
  • Your pain may increase at first because you’re not used to being with it yet. Pacing yourself is an opportunity in and of itself to be compassionate and patient as you build this skill.
  • Trying your best is constantly changing, and it will depend on many factors. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz explains: Doing your best means not overdoing it, honouring yourself by living fully and expressing what you are, loving and respecting yourself, including your limitations, and being responsible for yourself. All of these things align with self-compassion.
  • Compassion doesn’t mean crossing boundaries that are non-negotiable for you. It doesn’t mean anything goes. You’re not being compassionate or kind when you cross your limits for the sake of others. You’re creating resentment instead. 

Applying Your Intention

Here are some suggestions to engage actively in compassion:

  • Compassionate Touch: Touch can provide soothing and calmness to your central nervous system, whether you’re the source of the comforting touch or someone else is. Both sexual and non-sexual touch can be soothing as long as it is safe for you. In Abandon Your Fear Not Yourself, we covered some of these techniques.
  • Compassion through Expression: Expression helps with awareness, presence, making meaning, connecting, and regulating the intensity of your internal experience. A few options to consider:
  • Self-Expression: Self-expression comes in many forms. For example, if you love writing, then journalling would resonate with you. Focus your journal or letter writing on addressing yourself compassionately. Choose something you don’t like about yourself to be compassionate about. Instead of writing it in a disapproving, rejecting, and critical way, you’ll practice writing about it with acceptance, love, and care. Writing is one form of self-expression. Get curious about other types and give them a try with a compassionate intent. It can include: trying a new activity, movement (e.g. dancing), and getting out of your comfort zone. Discomfort (e.g. feeling awkward) can be an excellent opportunity to practice kindness toward yourself. 
  • Expression with Others: If the activity involves other people (e.g. a dance class), it can be an opportunity also to practice compassion and non-judgement toward others.
  • Compassion Buddy/ Compassion Circle: Connect with people in your network or a person to be your compassion buddy. You can practice together and be a source of compassion for one another. If you have more than one person to practice with, then create a compassion circle! Active participation helps you do what needs to be done in each situation and serve your larger goals.
  • Self-Compassion Recess: Take a few moments throughout the day to send kindness, love, care, or affirmation towards yourself. You do so by taking a few moments of quiet and stillness, slowing your breathing, and then attending to yourself like a caring friend. Silence gives you space to connect to yourself. This kindness is a form of self-soothing and connecting. In the bigger picture, it will help you find your balance and regulate your internal experience. These small doses of compassion are a great way to be consistent with your practice and work well for busy people. 

Harnessing the Benefits

We’re all flawed, imperfect, vulnerable, and mortal. This is a universal human experience. Some tools help you navigate this universal experience, so you’re not doing it alone. Compassion is one of them.

Over the years, research has validated the benefits of compassion. We now know it increases your overall happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. It improves your mental and physical health. It lowers depression and anxiety and betters your relationships. Through it, you can take care of yourself and others in a balanced way and deal with life’s challenges and frustrations differently. Ultimately, compassion helps you move through life with grace. 

As you practice intentionally this week, write back to let me know your thoughts, insights, and reactions. With the suggestions above on compassion, I’d love to hear from you about what specific things you were inspired to do. You may find your definition of what compassion means to you or discover something new about yourself or others. The main focus is to find ways to bring kindness, connection, and presence to your daily living. 

The world needs your compassion in all its forms. 

We only recommend products we use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that are at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. Thanks

About the Writer
Hiba Khatkhat Video Thumbnail

Level Up Your Happiness With Self Compassion

Compassion is both an outcome of and a tool for healing. Today, I watched a video of a woman creating a secret underground tunnel that’s liveable in the wilderness with three fundamental tools. It was a reminder of how creative and resilient you can be when you have the right tools. And what amazing things you can bring to life when you learn how to use them. Witnessing her was a seemingly simple but crucial reminder amidst the continued state of the world, in which the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, amongst other painful news. 

My first reaction to the overturning, and to quote the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, “This is some bullshit.”

This devastating decision, to me and for people like me, is yet another way the world can lack compassion. You can quickly get stuck in grief, defeat, and hopelessness when faced with this. Getting stuck prevents you from seeing the opportunity for rebuilding that comes after that. I could’ve gotten stuck in the limited resources the woman had in that video. 

I had to dig deep into my self-compassion to pull myself out of these reactions. I also connected with my community (the people who would get the depth of this). Compassionate connection with yourself and others allows you to find your sense of renewal and generate hope, dignity, and freedom.

You become a better change-maker when you don’t deny your anger and sadness about what’s happened. You pay attention to it AND focus on personal renewal and healing as tools for rebuilding (at the same time). This compassion inspires you to be resilient to your circumstances and work towards the change you want. 

This week, consider compassion for yourself and others as a tool for connection, renewal, change, and oneness. 

What Compassion Is and What It’s Not

Compassion has become a buzzword over the years. Sometimes you may not fully know what people mean when they say “be compassionate.” Or you could mistake self-compassion with self-esteem (Hint: They’re not the same!).

Dr. Kristin Neff, one of the first people to study and define self-compassion, explains it in 3 elements:

  • Kindness 
  • Connection/Common Humanity
  • Mindfulness/Presence

Kindness (vs. Self-Judgment)

Being kind and compassionate towards yourself and others is not about ignoring your pain and suffering or the pain and suffering of others. It’s also not about criticizing. It’s about honouring and understanding yourself and your experiences with warmth and openness. By extension, you would be able to do the same for others.

This type of compassion helps you to make sense of what’s going on for you (aka self-validate). It’s saying to yourself, “it makes sense why I feel this way.” When you engage in this type of acknowledgement, you become more aware. Remember: Acknowledgment is not agreement, approval, or liking. 

Cultivating kindness helps to reduce criticism towards yourself and others. When you’re in this mindset, you show up more empathetically in your life. You can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and appreciate their perspective. You can understand even if/when you disagree. You can face truths about yourself and others in a caring way through compassion.

Connection/Common Humanity (vs. Isolation)

When you’re able to understand, you connect and reduce your isolation. Through this, you connect to the universality of the human experience. And you can start cultivating more meaningful connections. This is why self-compassion is NOT: self-pity, selfishness, self-absorption, or self-esteem. 

I remember watching an interview with Mandela on the Oprah Show in my late teens. In it, he spoke about being honest with yourself to have an impact and change what you want to change. And he talked about humility as an essential part of being your own peacemaker - within yourself. As I reflected on this, I realized he was talking about compassion. In this case, I realized self-compassion is actually about truth and reconciliation with yourself! The result is that you embrace yourself, and people embrace you.

Mindfulness/Presence (vs. Over-Identification)

For compassion to thrive, it needs mindfulness and presence. This element is about attuning to your internal experience without getting too attached. If you do, you can start to over-identify and get too absorbed in it. It’s that delicate balance of awareness of what’s inside and outside you. Therapists call this dual-awareness. Mindfulness practitioners call this equanimity. In this state, you are receptive to yourself and your experience while observing without suppressing or denying it. You have poise, stability, and composure without rejecting your pain. 

So, What Does All of this Look Like in Practice?

Self-compassion is showing up for yourself fiercely and radically in extraordinary and ordinary ways. These elements help you do just that. But self-compassion may not always feel good because it includes embracing your pain and wounds. So it’s important to know that self-compassion is about good intentions, not good feelings. Good intentions have support, love, care, non-judgment, and patience. Compassion for others works the same way.

Whether you’re new or experienced in practicing compassion, remember:

Love and respect yourself
From The Four Agreements 48- Card Deck that I use for regular inspiration
  • You can practice compassion in ordinary ways: a cup of tea, petting your dog or cat, spending time in nature, placing your hand on your heart, having fun, laughing, and resting.
  • Compassion is not a passive state - A big misconception about compassion because it looks gentle and quiet. You can easily mistake it to mean passivity or non-participation. That is not the case at all! It’s about being measured in your actions and decisions. 
  • Sometimes the caring thing is to pull back temporarily. This time-limited shift is different from suppressing or denying your experience. Pulling back “for now” is kindness to yourself. It prevents flooding. Flooding is when you get more overwhelmed with your experience, making you feel worse. It makes it more difficult to find and maintain your presence and equanimity. In other words, overdoing can deplete you and get in the way of what you’re trying to do.
  • Your pain may increase at first because you’re not used to being with it yet. Pacing yourself is an opportunity in and of itself to be compassionate and patient as you build this skill.
  • Trying your best is constantly changing, and it will depend on many factors. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz explains: Doing your best means not overdoing it, honouring yourself by living fully and expressing what you are, loving and respecting yourself, including your limitations, and being responsible for yourself. All of these things align with self-compassion.
  • Compassion doesn’t mean crossing boundaries that are non-negotiable for you. It doesn’t mean anything goes. You’re not being compassionate or kind when you cross your limits for the sake of others. You’re creating resentment instead. 

Applying Your Intention

Here are some suggestions to engage actively in compassion:

  • Compassionate Touch: Touch can provide soothing and calmness to your central nervous system, whether you’re the source of the comforting touch or someone else is. Both sexual and non-sexual touch can be soothing as long as it is safe for you. In Abandon Your Fear Not Yourself, we covered some of these techniques.
  • Compassion through Expression: Expression helps with awareness, presence, making meaning, connecting, and regulating the intensity of your internal experience. A few options to consider:
  • Self-Expression: Self-expression comes in many forms. For example, if you love writing, then journalling would resonate with you. Focus your journal or letter writing on addressing yourself compassionately. Choose something you don’t like about yourself to be compassionate about. Instead of writing it in a disapproving, rejecting, and critical way, you’ll practice writing about it with acceptance, love, and care. Writing is one form of self-expression. Get curious about other types and give them a try with a compassionate intent. It can include: trying a new activity, movement (e.g. dancing), and getting out of your comfort zone. Discomfort (e.g. feeling awkward) can be an excellent opportunity to practice kindness toward yourself. 
  • Expression with Others: If the activity involves other people (e.g. a dance class), it can be an opportunity also to practice compassion and non-judgement toward others.
  • Compassion Buddy/ Compassion Circle: Connect with people in your network or a person to be your compassion buddy. You can practice together and be a source of compassion for one another. If you have more than one person to practice with, then create a compassion circle! Active participation helps you do what needs to be done in each situation and serve your larger goals.
  • Self-Compassion Recess: Take a few moments throughout the day to send kindness, love, care, or affirmation towards yourself. You do so by taking a few moments of quiet and stillness, slowing your breathing, and then attending to yourself like a caring friend. Silence gives you space to connect to yourself. This kindness is a form of self-soothing and connecting. In the bigger picture, it will help you find your balance and regulate your internal experience. These small doses of compassion are a great way to be consistent with your practice and work well for busy people. 

Harnessing the Benefits

We’re all flawed, imperfect, vulnerable, and mortal. This is a universal human experience. Some tools help you navigate this universal experience, so you’re not doing it alone. Compassion is one of them.

Over the years, research has validated the benefits of compassion. We now know it increases your overall happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. It improves your mental and physical health. It lowers depression and anxiety and betters your relationships. Through it, you can take care of yourself and others in a balanced way and deal with life’s challenges and frustrations differently. Ultimately, compassion helps you move through life with grace. 

As you practice intentionally this week, write back to let me know your thoughts, insights, and reactions. With the suggestions above on compassion, I’d love to hear from you about what specific things you were inspired to do. You may find your definition of what compassion means to you or discover something new about yourself or others. The main focus is to find ways to bring kindness, connection, and presence to your daily living. 

The world needs your compassion in all its forms. 

Heading

q

A
q

a
q

a
q

a
q

a
q

a
q

a
q

a
q

a
a

a

We only recommend products we use ourselves and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that are at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. Thanks

About the Writer
Find the root cause quiz banner - click to take the quiz

Get your Weekly dose of inspiration

Sign up for the newsletter!

Thank you!
Your submission has been received!

Please check your inbox for further instructions.

Don't forget to check your spam.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Hiba Khatkhat

A registered psychotherapist, life coach, and social justice activist. Born and raised in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), she immigrated to Canada and currently lives in Niagara. Hiba is passionate about Yin Yoga, interior design, travelling, dancing, and entrepreneurship.

Connect with Hiba!
Instagram ProfileLinkedin ProfileEmail Me

Our Latest

Find the root cause quiz banner - click to take the quiz

Get your Weekly dose of inspiration

Sign up for the newsletter!
Thank you!
Your submission has been received!

Please check your inbox for further instructions.

Don't forget to check your spam.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Back to Top ^