Many conversations I've had personally and professionally have led to discussing "self-compassion." It often lands heavily in people and a typical response is a lack of knowing how to be compassionate for oneself. Some of the most kind and generous people I know are the toughest on themselves.
Self-compassion may sound like an ominous or unrealistic feat, but perhaps it is possible to shift perspective, even a little. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as, "a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc." Adding the "self," I suggest the following definition: a feeling of wanting to take care of myself when I'm sick, hungry, in trouble, etc. This seems like it may be a slightly less daunting. Perhaps just the intention of wanting to help is enough.
Aspects of compassion may include feelings of generosity, honesty, patience, kindness, and tolerance. I wonder if some ease can be found if "self-compassion" is replaced in the mind by a gentle intention such as, "May I be patient with myself right now," or "May I tolerate myself in this moment." The invitation is for this to be a well-wish for yourself rather than an expectation or demand.
If you're interested in investigating this practice in your life, I suggest starting with something that isn't very difficult or intense.
Often, it is helpful to get support when learning new coping skills such as this one. Contact me for a free consultation or to set up an appointment.
Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a group of parents at a high school here in San Francisco.
It was a privilege to meet some of the parents and get to share some knowledge and ideas about teens and self-esteem.
During the presentation, I spoke about adolescent brain development, using some of the information from Daniel J. Siegel's work. So much is going on in a teen's brain and body at the same time!
As a group, we brainstormed a definition for self-esteem, as well as qualities of high and low self-esteem.
I also shared with the group some components that contribute to self-esteem, such as the home environment, community and the teen's own thoughts, feelings and perceptions.
The presentation ended with some tips for parents on what they can do to help teens develop and access high self-esteem qualities.
I appreciated the participation and engagement of the parents, teachers and students who were in attendance. I am grateful to have been invited to speak.
I am hopeful I will have another opportunity to continue to connect with parents and teens at this and other high schools in San Francisco.