When I began to write and think about self-compassion in 2015, the concept generated less interest than it does today. Self-compassion as a practice was becoming part of the mindfulness movement but outside that arena not much was heard about it.
Now I notice an increasing level of interest in bringing self-compassion into one’s life.
Why has this growth in interest come about?
I think we all have a sense of suddenly finding ourselves in a harsher world in which strongman leaders don’t even pretend to be in any way kind.
Of course the world was always a harsh place – maybe harsher than it is now – but we are less able to kid ourselves about this than we have ever been, thanks to the presence everywhere and at all times of both old and new media.
So I think this drives us to seek the comfort of kindness both from others and from ourselves towards ourselves.
The demands we place on ourselves also play a role in the desire for a little kindness in our own lives.
Because we can do so much we seek to do too much. We inevitably fall short. That triggers self-criticism or or disappointment with the self. Just think of the horrible things you say to yourself when you get the smallest thing wrong.
I think kindness towards oneself or kindness received from others can bring a huge sense of relief because it is saying “Look, even though you’ll never run a marathon before you go to work every day, or polish off your entire to-do list to universal applause by 11 AM, or become a tech billionaire before you’re 25, or write the great English, Irish, American, (insert country of your choice) novel, you’re okay, you’re fine, relax.”
For all of these reasons, I think the need for compassion and self-compassion is finally being recognised in our society.
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