In the journey back from abusive relationships we are often referred to self-compassion as an approach to support recovery. In fact, it is very helpful for us.
But for many people the concept is totally foreign. Not the idea of compassion, as we are often very compassionate... but how to direct it at ourselves.
The journey to accessing this skill starts with understanding what it is.
What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion is the act of being kind and understanding towards oneself, and offering oneself the same compassion, care, and understanding that one would offer to a dear friend.
Notice that I said 'act'. Self-compassion is not an idea, it is something we do - as often as we can. In fact, we should be aiming at being self-compassionate as our default, although this will take time.
It involves being understanding and accepting of one's own weaknesses and limitations, and treating oneself with kindness and compassion rather than self-criticism and harsh judgment.
This is particularly challenging after abusive relationships, as we have often had our limitations and weaknesses used against us - along with being persuaded that we have many that we don't have. We have lost trust in what is true. All of this we deal with in the GOGL programme, so at this point the invitation is for us to simply realise that one goal of GOGL is acceptance, alongside change.
Self-compassion involves three key components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Self-kindness involves being understanding and caring towards oneself, rather than being self-critical or judgmental. The core of the GOGL programme, delivered as a journey.
Common humanity involves realising that suffering is a universal human experience, and that we all have moments of weakness and vulnerability. We refer to you and I as we, in all of the programme.. a universal we that includes the millions on the same journey. At the heart of all of the work in GOGL, you will be invited to connect to this collective and realise you are not alone.
Mindfulness involves being present and aware of one's thoughts and feelings without getting lost in them or getting carried away by negative emotions. The journaling work in GOGL will support this, alongside the compassionate mind exercises we will introduce in this part of the programme.
What are the benefits of self-compassion?
Self-compassion is an important aspect of emotional well-being and is associated with feelings of contentment, joy, and a sense of connection with others. It can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and can foster a greater sense of self-worth and self-acceptance.
Most importantly, following abusive relationships, it offers an alternative way of seeing ourselves that is the opposite to how we were treated and seen in our past relationship(s) and protects us in the future. Self-compassionate people will forgive themselves and help themselves... and will not turn up for abuse in the future.