Any regular visitors to this blog will know two things. One: I am a massive advocate of self-compassion and its many benefits. And two: self-compassion is not as whimsical as it sounds. I’m aware that ‘practising self-compassion’ is the sort of thing we say to ourselves when we lay in bed, flannel on head, nursing a hangover. But it’s so much more than constantly letting ourselves off the hook. Self-compassion is, at its core, accepting we’re all human, and understanding that humans suffer and fail.
Although you’d never guess failure and sadness were common feelings on social media. Where no one’s ever awake and worried at 4am. Where everyone takes long sunny holidays, and life is always on the upwards trajectory. But it’s just not true. And by reminding ourselves that painful moments are part of life, we feel less isolated and disconnected from others. We’re also likely to treat ourselves in a kinder and more compassionate way, as we muddle through the mire of unpleasant emotions.
Research into self-compassion in sports
So, it felt like spring really had arrived when I got to explore my favourite topic for Women’s Health magazine. Specifically, how athletes use self-compassion and its many benefits to achieve their fitness goals.
I am no fitness fanatic myself – I walk regularly and do a bit of yoga occasionally (very occasionally). And in terms of spectating, my current level of interest doesn’t go far beyond cheering for England’s Lionesses. But suddenly, as I pored over research papers for the article, I was transported to a high stake world where risk, reward and reputation are on the line at every game. I’ve developed a respect for the mental strength and resilience which becomes entrenched in the psyche of every professional athlete.
And it was so inspiring to talk to my case studies, and hear how they’d used self-compassion to achieve their own fitness goals. Chloe (below) explored how harnessing self-compassion, took her from feeling tense and deflated, to enjoying her training and getting results.
But, for me, my biggest insight came when I realised self-compassion can make almost every situation just a little better. I’ve yet to conjure a scenario where it can’t be applied to create a more comfortable experience.
If you’re interest has been piqued, then I highly recommend the works of self compassion pioneer, Dr Kristin Neff. I was fortunate to attend her online training last year, and it was so insightful and useful. If you can catch her speaking in the UK, then I really don’t think you’ll regret it (and I might see you there). Otherwise, her books are clear and engaging, and provide a great starting point into the wonderful world of self-compassion.
As ever, if you have any questions, comments or requests, pop them down below and I’ll do my best to get back to you.