Self Compassion for Moms

What is self-compassion? To have self-compassion means you are gentle and kind with yourself in the face of perceived failures or when you fall short of your expectations. Being self-compassionate is noticing the pain or discomfort in yourself when you feel inadequate or “not good enough”, then responding with warmth, acceptance, and nurturing – just like you would respond to anyone else when you recognize pain or suffering in them. Self-compassion sounds like a pretty basic and easy thing to do, yet moms seem to be just about the worst at practicing it. Why is that?
I think it’s a perfect storm of factors, like the perfectionist society we live in, the battle between our heart and ego, and a genuine goal we have to show up for our kids and families as the very best version of ourselves at all times and at all cost.

But the truth is, we are not perfect and never will be. No one is perfect, in fact, ever. PERIOD.

And that is okay!

Imperfection is our human condition – to be real and flawed in our differences is a magnificent thing, because our imperfections are also balanced by all our unique strengths. That’s what is beautiful about our humanity too – that we are all imperfect together and deserve to celebrate our gifts and share compassion for our collective shortcomings.

Because we are hard-wired for connection to our humanity and to share life with others, we naturally feel concern and empathy for other people when we see them struggling. So why can’t we do more of this for ourselves too?

Self-compassion is all about practicing more self-acceptance, and even embracing our unique imperfections with kindness and sympathy. According to self-compassion researcher Dr. Kristin Neff, being self-compassionate is really about recognizing that failure and imperfection are inevitable; so rather than ignoring hard feelings like disappointment or worthlessness or judging ourselves critically with them, we should expect to feel inadequate from time to time and be gentle with ourselves when these feelings show up.

We should also work on remembering that all people suffer and we’re not alone in our experiences. Being self-compassionate means keeping ourselves grounded and connected with others instead of isolating ourselves in our distress when we’re not feeling good enough.

A third component of self-compassion according to Dr. Neff is noticing our feelings without being consumed or overwhelmed by them, so that we can stay more balanced and aware of our experience in relation to that of others. This is also a practice of being more mindful with our emotions and honoring them without “over-identifying” with negative feelings when they come up for us.

So why be more self-compassionate (and how)?

Practicing more self-compassion is not just a mindset of living healthier and happier – it can actually lead to real feelings of healthier, happier well-being for moms! And because it’s rooted in understanding that we’re all imperfect and need compassion, it can help us feel more connected to each other and to those we love as well.

When our family is hurting or suffering in some way, don’t we rush in with our supermom powers to kiss the boo-boo, dry the tears and embrace them in hugs until the pain melts away? This is precisely the way we should show up for ourselves too when our feelings are big and the pressure is strong.

The next time you’re feeling let down, if it’s not too hard, try to lean in to that vulnerable place and ask yourself “Where is this emotion coming from?” “Am I being too hard on myself?” “Is it really fair to judge myself this way?”

And if the feeling is too tender or even painful, then know that it’s okay too to set it down for a little while and take some time to be gentle with yourself. Practice some self-care like calling a friend, making a cup of tea, going for a run, doing a bit of yoga, listening to music, or just sitting in a quiet space and tuning into your breath for a few minutes. Anything that restores and helps to re-center you is great for taking care of yourself, and also is an act of self-compassion!

I know it’s not easy and being more compassionate with ourselves is something we have to work hard at everyday, especially as moms. But my hope for you is that this will help you give yourself a little more permission to try it out, and know too that the other moms out there are on this same journey too.

How are you showing up with self-compassion for yourself this week? Get in touch with me for more ideas!

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