Not too many of us would see compassion as negative. Hopefully it is something we all desire to give and receive. But, what about self-compassion? Do we have the same positive reaction or do we slip into thinking we’re selfish? If you think it’s selfishness then check out what Jesus said about compassion: “Love others as well as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:40.
Let’s take a look at the definition of compassion. It comes from the Latin root com (with) and pati (suffer) or to suffer with. When we offer genuine compassion, we join a person in his or her suffering. Being compassionate means that we recognize when someone is in pain, we abandon our fear of or resistance to it, and a natural feeling of love and kindness flows toward the suffering individual. It is full acceptance of the person, of the pain, and of our own reaction to the pain.
Take a few minutes each day to practice compassion toward self in a very simple way. Here is a brief exercise to get you started.
Sit comfortably with your eye closed.
Recall that every living being wants to live peacefully and happily. Connect with that deep wish. “Just as all beings wish to be happy and free from suffering, may I be happy and free from suffering.” Let yourself feel the comfort of that loving intention.
Repeat silently to yourself the following phrases or other similar ones.
May I be happy and peaceful.
May I be safe from harm.
May I be strong and healthy.
May I care for myself with joy.
Then gently open your eyes.
To continue delving into self-compassion, consider the following excellent books:
Self-Compassion: The Power of being Kind to Yourself by K. Neff and The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Germer and Salzberg.
Article Written By: Sr. Sarah Deeby, OSM, LPC