How to achieve greater things for your health & wellbeing
Self-compassion. That’s a pretty thought-provoking concept to begin a blog post with. How do you feel and what comes to your mind when you are reading it?
What does it mean to be self-compassionate? Last week I watched a great video by Mike Robbins, an american author and speaker where he discussed the topic of self-compassion. And I have to say that it surely left me inspired. Self-compassion as he stated is something that many of us are lacking, however when you are able to discover it within yourself, things in your life begin to unfold the way they should in accordance to that great “Master Plan”.
Compassion is a natural trait of all human beings. When we see a person falling down we want to help. When we see someone who is lost, we want to guide. I am sure this has happened to you multitude of times. It might have been as well that in some circumstances this feeling sparked up, but remained unexpressed. In some cases despite that desire in our mind we are shying away from a real action because we are not certain about our ego safety and weather our comfort state is not going to be shaken by reaction of others.
If you try to remember past situations you will understand that you are a pretty compassionate being. However, is there any compassion within you that you experience towards yourself?
You won't be alone if your answer is negative. The majority of us are not particularly self-compassionate. Humane to others, but not to ourselves? But why...?
It appears that self-compassion is a skill and majority of us, unfortunately has not yet learned it.. Add this to the fact that many researches say that 80% of our daily thoughts are negative, there is no much room left for positivity and being easy on yourself, don’t you think?
But don’t worry, you still have time, even today to switch your brain into more positive mode and turn on that self-compassion switch that is hidden deep inside, probably somewhere beneath your negative self talk, anxiety or other common thought “regimes” of the modern society. I just want to point out one important thing: being self compassionate doesn’t make you weaker than others; it makes you more human and is indeed a key to become the healthiest version of yourself.
So how does being self-compassionate can help to support a better health? To understand that we need to first see what’s happening to our body in the period of stress. Because of today's environment with its endless stress factors and adaptive abilities of our bodies we are most of the times no longer affected in an obvious way, what I mean by that is that we do not need to run because a wild animal is trying to hunt us. But this primal fight and flight mechanism is still imprinted in our nervous system, precisely in the amygdala and hippocampus.
When we repeatedly are being very strict towards ourselves we are activating the sympathetic nervous system or “fight and flight response” that raises our heart rate, increases blood sugar, stress hormone - cortisol level, increases muscle tension, inhibits the immune & digestive systems, as the blood flows to the muscles in order to fight or run away from the danger. Were you aware that you are doing this to your body by simply not being compassionate towards yourself and telling stories that aren’t true?
So what’s happening when we are constantly thinking negatively about ourselves? We over stimulate the fight and flight response and this could bring detrimental issues such as:
- Immune problems
- Digestive problems
- Memory and cognitive problems because of loss of neurotransmitters and other...
But what changes when we learn to become self-compassionate? In a research on Self-compassion and optimism in individuals that was done by Shapira & Mongrain in 2010 it was highlighted that people who practice self-compassion showed increased happiness and significant decrease in depression without any meds in just a few months time.
When I researched material on self-compassion, I was surprised by the amount of studies that I found on this subject. Can you believe that the majority of them found a positive correlation on how self-compassion helps people to pass through difficult situations in life such as divorce, chronic pain, child maltreatment, exam failures and many other and allows to increase wellbeing regardless of discomfort.
So now you might ask yourself if you too want to be more self-compassionate?
Remember that even unsaid words are powerful and can trigger many emotional responses that will drain your energy down. One of the key things to change is the language you use towards yourself, especially when you make a mistake or you try to do something new for the first time and struggle.
I would like to share a simple exercise you might want to try out as a self help - write all the positive things you have done during the day before go to sleep. I encourage to also, to support it with some positive emotion to those things you have done. When we add this positive energy our body will recall it as a positive experience and help self-compassion grow within you.
I hope I gave you some refreshing insight and would like to wish you a very positive and self-growth year of 2017!
Thanks again for reading