Episode 39

Published on:

31st Aug 2020

The three stages of self-compassion

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." –Dalai Lama

We could all use a little more self-compassion right now, but why is self-compassion so hard? We talk about the power of the inner critic, where it comes from and how it functions. In the face of this critic, we need to cultivate self-compassion. 

Where does the inner critic and negative inner voice come from? You weren’t born with it. These voices are constructed. They tend to be an assembly of voices we’ve heard outside of us. All of the influences from our caretakers to our coaches to our friends to the media. And the voices reinforce our ego’s protective function — to ensure we’re not shamed or teased or corrected again. We want to be in the tribe. We want to do what pleases others.

Experts are starting to agree that self-compassion is more powerful than self-esteem. Kristin Neff's research, alongside the research of other leading psychologists, indicates that people who feel compassionate toward themselves, their imperfections, and their failures ultimately experience greater well-being than those who are hypercritical.

Letting go of dangerous and destructive self-criticism can finally lead to happiness and self-love.

We talk about Kristin Neff's three stages of self-compassion. At any point in your day, you can pause and have a self-compassion break.

Time Stamps:

4:55 Speaking of changing your life, today, we're talking about the practice of compassion, self-compassion. And the Dalai Lama. Let's start with this quote, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” I like that because Because what I've been learning about self-compassion. Shelley, is that it's how you interact with yourself?

6:10 Why do you think it's so hard for people? We're hard on ourselves. Now, why are we hard on ourselves? Especially in today's milieu, our cultural context, you start looking, you're just like, look at these amazing lives that every single person I'm looking at is living. And you start pointing the finger at yourself and you start thinking a little lesser of yourself.

11:47 The power of the critic, the inner critic that can really trip us up because it sees a deficiency and it latches on to it.

15:41 We have been talking about mindfulness from time to time on the podcast sometimes as an antidote to anxiety. By really looking it in the eye you disempower it. You confront it. And that's the same thing I think that we're talking about here. With a little self-compassion is to be aware of your emotions turn to them with curiosity.

19:47 The second stage is common humanity. And I love this step because when we are in a negative downward spiral, Usually, you know, when the inner critic is, is doing its job, it's meant to diminish us to keep us safe is a lot of how it works. We think we're the only one.

26:42 The first step is really about awareness that this is this hurts. This is uncomfortable. This is what I'm feeling. The second step with this common humanity is, you know, I'm not alone in this and we all struggle with this. And then the third one is truly being warm with yourself like, sometimes I'll even do this, like put my hand on my heart and like really talk to myself in terms of like kindness. May I be kind to myself.

29:45 And it's not self pity. It doesn't mean you're weak. It's not being selfish by you know, having compassion for yourself but I think maybe the most important one for us to contrast it with is self esteem. Because I could very much see you know, someone saying, Oh, this is being kind to yourself is that jack handy thing from Saturday Night Live have you know, people like me and yeah, so I'm okay and you're okay.

32:09 Write a self-compassion letter.

Leave us a review and subscribe on Apple iTunes.

Subscribe on Spotify.

Find us at the Big Self Community on Facebook.

Show artwork for The Big Self Podcast

About the Podcast

The Big Self Podcast
The Enneagram at Work
For the first two seasons, Shelley and Chad discussed everything from burnout to productivity to self-awareness. Now the duo deep dives into all facets of the Enneagram, all packed in the form of practical, actionable insights. For leaders and team-builders in the business world, as well as those practicing the Enneagram on their own.
Big ideas + True Self = Big Self.

About your host

Profile picture for Chad Prevost

Chad Prevost

Dr. Chad has advanced degrees in creative writing, literature, and theology. Being married to a psychotherapist has been another education. A workshop leader and entrepreneur, he has started and participated in writing and literary arts communities in New York, Austin, Atlanta and Chattanooga. He also has experience writing as a journalist for startups in tech and logistics. He is the author of several books of poetry, as well as interactive-fiction for youth. Over the years, he has innovated writing processes to foster reflection and insight, narrative strength, and authentic voice.