The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion - Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions


How much do I want to read more? 7/10

The author has read many of the most popular books and authorities on the subject. So at first I have mixed feeling: It could be a great summary, saving time to read them all myself. Or it could be just a copy/paste from many sources that doesn't make any real sense.

So far, his style is not the best, but it's good enough. Some of his example doesn't seem that powerful, or that relevant to be in a book, but still, I get sufficient insights and curiosity to read on.


"Explains both the science and practice of developing kindness toward ourselves and others. accessible steps toward transforming our lives from the inside out. It’s never too late to start along this important path."
-- Daniel J. Siegel, MD, author of The Mindful Brain

Foreword - SHARON SALZBERG

Why is it so hard to extend the same kindness to ourselves that many of us gladly offer to others?
compassion on ourselves seems selfish or inappropriate.
the East tells us that loving-kindness is something everyone needs and deserves, and that includes the compassion we can give to ourselves. Without it, we blame ourselves for our problems, for our inability to solve them all.

what meditative traditions have accepted for ages: that compassion and loving-kindness are skills—not gifts that we’re either born with or not—and each one of us, without exception, can develop and strengthen these skills and bring them into our everyday lives.
This book develops self-compassion, the path to realizing it rather than just thinking about it, and the practical tools, such as mindfulness, we need to effect that transformation.

Buddhist psychological analysis regards qualities like loving-kindness as the direct antidote to fear.
fear of feeling we are not enough; fear that courses through us when we see no options; fear we sometimes feel when we must take a next step and cannot sense how or where.
Loving-kindness and compassion, in contrast to fear, reaffirm the healing power of connection.

Whether extended to ourselves or others, the intertwined forces of loving-kindness and compassion are the basis for wise, powerful, sometimes gentle, and sometimes fierce actions that can really make a difference.
The true development of self-compassion is the basis for fearlessness, generosity, inclusion, and a sustained loving-kindness and compassion for others.

Introduction

Life is tough.
How do we typically react when things fall apart?
we feel ashamed and become self-critical: “What’s wrong with me?”
we seem to find the path of greatest resistance.

Yet no matter how hard we try to avoid emotional pain, it follows us everywhere. Difficult emotions—shame, anger, loneliness, fear, despair, confusion—arrive like clockwork at our door.

Instead of greeting difficult emotions by fighting hard against them, we can bear witness to our own pain and respond with kindness and understanding. That’s self-compassion—taking care of ourselves just as we’d treat someone we love dearly.
Difficult emotions become destructive and break down the mind, body, and spirit. Feelings get stuck—frozen in time—and we get stuck in them.
The happiness we long for in relationships seems to elude us. Satisfaction at work lies just beyond our reach. We drag ourselves through the day, arguing with our physical aches and pains. Usually we’re not aware just how many of these trials have their root in how we relate to the inevitable discomfort of life.

Change comes naturally when we open ourselves to emotional pain with uncommon kindness. Instead of blaming, criticizing, and trying to fix ourselves (or someone else, or the whole world) when things go wrong and we feel bad, we can start with self-acceptance.

Imagine that your partner just criticized you for yelling at your daughter.
imagine that you took a deep breath and said the following to yourself before the argument: “More than anything, I want to be a good parent. It’s so painful to me when I yell at my child. I love my daughter more than anything in the world, but sometimes I just lose it. I’m only human, I guess. May I learn to forgive myself for my mistakes, and may we find a way to live together in peace.”
A moment of self-compassion like this can change your entire day.
Freeing yourself from the trap of destructive thoughts and emotions through self-compassion can boost your self-esteem from the inside out, reduce depression and anxiety, and even help you stick to your diet.

The Dalai Lama said, “[Compassion] is the state of wishing that the object of our compassion be free of suffering…. Yourself first, and then in a more advanced way the aspiration will embrace others.” It makes sense, doesn’t it, that we won’t be able to empathize with others if we can’t tolerate the same feelings—despair, fear, failure, shame—occurring within ourselves? And how can we pay the slightest attention to others when we’re absorbed in our own internal struggles?

If you cut your finger, you’ll want to clean it, bandage it, and help it heal. That’s innate self-compassion. But where does self-compassion go when our emotional well-being is at stake?
We instinctively go to battle against unpleasant emotions as if they were external foes, and fighting them inside only makes matters worse.
Suppress grief and chronic depression may develop. Struggling to fall asleep can keep you awake all night long.

Instead of beginning with the notion that something about you is broken and needs to be fixed, I hope to show you how to respond to emotional pain in a new, more compassionate, and loving way.

Part I - discovering self-compassion

1- being kind to yourself

The suffering itself is not so bad; it’s the resentment against suffering that is the real pain.

—- ALLEN GINSBERG, poet