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The Self-Compassion Game

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The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:34 am

The Self-Compassion Game


"If I do not have peace myself, how can I help others find it?" - Tsongkhapa (1357-1419)

I'm excited to start a new game, one I hope many of us will decide to take part in. This game is all about treating ourselves with kindness; I'm sure most of us don't harbour feelings of self-hatred, but in one way or another, I believe all of us could develop our self-compassion. In turn, deepening compassion for ourselves increases our ability to have compassion for others.



Compassion is really at the heart of all spirituality; all religions share an emphasis on kindness. Current scientific studies demonstrate that compassion is very important to our well-being, and as Thupten Jinpa has pointed out, the paradox of happiness is that the less concerned we are about our own happiness, and the more we are concerned about the happiness of others, the happier we are (A Fearless Heart 38).

But before we can offer compassion to others fully, we first need to have compassion for ourselves. Every time I see an airline safety video and it says "in case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others," I still feel it's wrong, but it's based on a very sound principle. If we don't take care of ourselves first, then we can't truly take care of others. If the mother doesn't put the oxygen mask on first, she will pass out, and what use will it be that her child can breathe then? In the same way, we can't do our best by others unless we are first kind to ourselves.

* * *  

So now to the game. Here's the idea: once or twice a week, I would like all of us participating to do a set exercise and write about it here. They will be simple exercises based on both traditional Buddhist psychology and current psychological research, rewarding and perhaps even fun to do; they will foster greater understanding of ourselves and of those around us, and increase the flow of kindness. Regarding personal material, participants can of course do the exercises privately and then simply report back on the experience of doing the exercise, but ideally it should be possible to find something small that is comfortable to share. Deeply personal issues we can all work with offline.

The easiest way to explain this is to do it, so the first exercise I propose is...

Week 1: Exercise in Self-Forgiveness


Excerpted from A Fearless Heart

To do this guided meditation, read just your sitting position so that you feel comfortable and relaxed. Take three to five deep breaths, bringing each one all the way down to your abdomen and then gently releasing it. Pause for about twenty to thirty seconds in silence.

Now think of a time when you did something that you wish you hadn't, and as a result, you reproached yourself for it. Perhaps you snapped at someone you love and later felt bad about it. Or it could be something that affected only you, such as overspending on something you bought and feeling guilty after. Recalling the specifics of the incident is not important, unless they help you to evoke the emotional reaction you felt then. What is important is the recollection of how you engaged in negative self-judgement.

Then ask yourself, "Why is it that I reacted so harshly then?" "What was the unmet need I was trying to fulfill when I did this thing?" When you lose your temper, it could be that you needed respect and felt disrespected by the other person. Perhaps you needed to be heard and felt that this was not happening. Stay with these reflections for a little while.

Now, recognise that although what you did (for example, using abusive language) was not skillful, the underlying need that prompted your action was legitimate. In the case of overspending and feeling ashamed about it, although you were unskillful, there again was an underlying need--perhaps you were feeling disempowered and down, and needed a psychological boost. With awareness, allow yourself to experience feelings such as sadness, disappointment, and remorse rather than guilt and shame. Pause with these feelings.

As you touch upon the underlying need that led to the action that brought about the negative self-judgement, stay with it for a while.

Now, breathing out slowly and completely, let go of any tension in the body, let go of any tightness in the mind, and reflecting on your earlier self-reproachful thoughts, silently say to yourself, "I can let this go. I will let it go." [F addition: "I am letting it go. I have let it go."]

Finally, imagine that you feel free and expansive in your chest, and then breathe out fully a few more times.

* * *

For the game, please share with us:

1. Something small that you regret doing and censured yourself for at the time/directly afterwards
2. The reasons you think you reacted the way you did
3. What unmet need do you think you were trying to fulfill when you did what you now regret?
4. An affirmation about forgiving yourself and letting go
5. (optional) A vow to be more self-aware in order to catch yourself before you repeat the action that you regretted

* * *

1. For this exercise, I would myself like to share a small regret that I've had. Last week, I felt guilty about procrastinating when I should have been working on a project that was due on Monday. Inside my head, I basically abused myself and hated myself to the point that it was unbearable, and doing work became even more impossible so I procrastinated more, thus becoming trapped in a vicious circle.

2. I reacted badly to my procrastination because I knew how pressing the project was and how many people depended on me completing it to a high standard.

3. When I procrastinated, I was suffering from a bad episode of depression and anxiety, and doing something other than the project was my way of escaping the anxiety at least in some way and distracting myself from my overall despair.

4. I forgive myself for procrastinating. It was unwise and harmful to my project, but all worked out well despite that. I accept that I am not perfect. I release all resentment towards myself, and let go of any remaining feelings of disliking myself. I can let this go. I will let it go. I am letting it go. I have let it go.

5. I vow to be more mindful so that, with awareness in every waking moment and living in the now, I do not listen to the compulsion to procrastinate in future.

* * *

So, who's in? I think these exercises can help us develop spiritually, watering the seeds of loving-kindness towards ourselves. Thus we can expand our compassion for others. Smiley

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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:56 am

Oh and I'd like to emphasise, you don't have to share anything if you want to take part, you can just do the exercise offline...but I think it would help us gain insight into our friends here in this community, and even greater self-compassion when we remember that others have the same basic human needs and failings.

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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by lunareclipse on Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:14 am

I want to be in, but need to come back to it tomorrow. Although I have to say taking a quiet moment to meditate and reflect is not really happening in my house lol. The absolute only quiet moment I get is right before I fall asleep and usually I just pass out.

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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Lilac on Sun Mar 27, 2016 12:47 pm

I am completely there with you on the procrastination, Freya. I'm happy to hear that it all worked out for you in the end Smiley I'm going to steal your vow for number 5 Wink

I do have one to share, though it is quite personal so am undecided whether I will post it just yet. I think it would help me to address it and let it go if I share, rather than write it to myself, but I don't have the courage to do so right now Razz PLOA
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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:16 am

Oh yay! I'm glad I'm not alone, I think this could be fun.
And please don't feel obliged to post anything that feels too personal to post Lilac (or anyone else)!

Also from the book A Fearless Heart:

Why we sometimes are unforgiving of ourselves, and how to change that

When we have feelings of resentment or enmity towards someone, we cannot generate genuine compassion and concern for that person. The same is true of ourselves. [...] We're only human. We're doing the best we can. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the nonviolent communication (NVC) method, captures the insight: "An important aspect of self-compassion is to be able to empathetically hold both parts of ourselves, the self that regrets a past action and the self that took the action in the first place."

When we judge ourselves harshly and refuses to forgive ourselves for something we have done, essentially, we are attacking the part of us that did that thing.... Our evaluative, self-hating mind would say "bad" reasons, but really they were just human reasons. Or perhaps our strategy is to try to amputate this part of us, and those reasons, by denying they exist.

Note that, as when we speak to other people, tone matters a lot when we speak to ourselves. We can scream, "How could you do this?!" with the implication "You monster!" Or we can gently ask ourselves, "Hmm, let's see, how did you do this?" The implication: "What a mess. Let's see how this happened, so hopefully it won't happen again, and I'll help you clean it up."


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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by posay on Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:00 pm

I'll join in too, just give me a few days to get my head out of the assignment sand and I'll be here. x

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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:10 am

Hey everyone Smiley

I've found another exercise that is perhaps less demanding on time and energy - Olivia Fox Cabane's self-compassion exercise, which is adapted from Buddhistic Metta (loving-kindness) meditation.

Metta

The visualization below will guide you through Metta step-by-step. If you’d prefer to hear me guide you through this exercise, you’ll find a recording at the top of this page.

♦ Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take two or three deep breaths, letting them wash all your worries away.

♦ Think of any occasion in your life when you performed a good deed, however great or small.

♦ Now think of a being—present, past, mythical, or actual; person, pet, or even stuffed animal—that you can imagine having warm affection for you.

♦ Picture this being in your mind, and see their warmth, kindness, and compassion. Imagine their affection and let it envelop you.

♦ Feel them give you complete forgiveness for everything your inner critic says isn’t good enough about you or your life.

♦ Feel them giving you complete acceptance as you are right now, with all your imperfections, at this stage of your progression.


If you like, you can tell us of the good deed and the person/being you imagined coming to you.......or not. Smiley

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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:41 am


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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

Post by Freya on Mon May 16, 2016 9:01 am






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Re: The Self-Compassion Game

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