Mindful Self Compassion

By 2019-11-01 12:01:27

Compassion may be defined as “the capacity to be attentive to the experience of others, to wish the best for others, and to sense what will truly serve others.” – Pioneer in Self Compassion, Joan Halifax. From a young age we are taught to practice the “golden rule.” This states that we should treat others the way we’d like to be treated. As we become older, and are more easily shaped and influenced by the world we live in, our perspective of how we feel we deserve to be treated changes. As we grow so does the gap between our expectations of ourselves and our personal beliefs of ourselves.

Too often we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, and that gap between our self-image and our true self generates an incredible amount of stress and anxiety. This is where self-compassion comes in to bridge that divide and to teach us how to be a friend to ourselves.

Self-compassion is the act of practicing mindfulness and extending kindness to oneself during these times of perceived inadequacy. I’m sure we don’t have to think back far to think of the last time we’ve fallen victim to these perceptions. Those moments that creep in when we’re just trying to catch our breath. When we question our capacity to parent, to mentor, and to help our children grow into compassionate people in their own right. We become so consumed by the pressure to meet expectations in all areas of our life while parenting at full speed that we forget to take care of ourselves.

If we forget to take care of ourselves how can we expect to take care of others? This is when just like an old friend would do, we should cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves break. In those moments when negative thoughts creep in we can learn to laugh them off and to understand that this is a process- one that we all collectively go through as we live, love, and grow. It cannot be said too often that no one is perfect and we are part of an incredible common humanity all working towards the same overarching goals. Finally, we can invite the practice of mindfulness as we approach these negative emotions towards our self in order to put our situation in to a balanced and true perspective. These three tenants of self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness are the building blocks of self-compassion.

Compassion offers us an opportunity to see parenting challenges as a path to growth, to be mindful of the thoughts and emotions that arise, to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses, and better assess how to navigate them. Furthermore, self-compassion allows us to turn this thought process inwards and give ourselves the kindness that we strive to provide for our own children. To help us with this process we have a simple three breath micro practice to fall back on and support us through it:


1. Be attentive to your breath

2. Relax your physical body

3. Ask yourself: What's most important right now in this moment?


This is a great exercise to try before arriving home from work, in between a busy schedule, or even before settling your children to bed. Allow yourself some breathing space to truly arrive into the present to enjoy the beautiful moments with your family.

When we are young and filled with self-love, as our children are now, that golden rule holds true. Later on we must take a fresh approach to the golden rule and in turn treat ourselves the way we would treat others; and gain a new friend in ourselves in the process. Here at AITIA, we believe that family is the first community to nurture in our children the love and compassion that will allow them to flourish. Mindfulness practices and latest neuroscience can offer your family invaluable support throughout your family’s life stages. Come join us to learn, grow and evolve at aitiainstitute.org or follow us on WeChat at AITIAinstitute.