Sitting outside a familiar cafe, in a familiar street just down the road from my house, I ordered a coffee.
It was one of those warm autumn afternoons, when the sun was still shining and people seemed to be out enjoying the good weather.
On this particular day, I was consciously aware that I felt stressed (hence the coffee break). Before my coffee had even arrived, I became aware of my almost automatic response to check my phone, to scroll through Instagram, Facebook or my E-mails. In my mind, I questioned why? In the absence of any real answer to that question, I decided to put my phone away and connect with the present moment.
In doing so, I chose to notice the warmth of the sun on my skin.
I chose to be mindful of the taste of my delicious coffee.
I chose to interact with the waiter when he filled my water glass.
I chose to notice the intricate details of the historical buildings across the road.
I chose to smile at people as they wondered by.
I chose to help a mother with her pram up the stairs, who I may have otherwise missed while on my phone.
On this particular day, on a day when stress was starting to take over, this is how I chose to be self-compassionate. By taking a mindful coffee break, enjoying the weather and connecting with others.
So what is self-compassion?
“Self-compassion simply represents compassion turned inwards and refers to how we relate to ourselves in instances of perceived failure, inadequacy or personal suffering” (Kristen Neff, 2015)
According to renowned self-compassion expert, Kristen Neff there is typically three elements to self-compassion. The first being Self-Kindness, including bringing a sense of warmth and understanding to our current suffering. The second element is Common Humanity, which includes an understanding that all humans are imperfect and that our mistakes and suffering are all part of the shared human experience. In other words, if you have make a mistake in your life or felt at some point that you were not ‘good enough’ you are not alone. The third element is Mindfulness. Mindfulness includes being aware of our present moment experience in a way that is non-judgmental. If we do not allow ourselves to be aware that we are suffering, we cannot respond to our suffering with self-compassionate.
Self-compassion is about asking yourself what do I need right now? And acting on it!