In recent years, there has been much excitement regarding the benefits of mindfulness meditation as a tool for helping people build a good life free from addiction. This technique has already helped many individuals overcome cravings, deal with the stress of early recovery, and better manage their emotions. Self-compassion is another tool that is currently been used to help overcome addiction problems. It also involves being mindful, but this practice can also boost self-esteem, reduce self-criticism, and allow the person to feel more comfortable in his or her own skin.
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion involves being as kind to oneself as one would want to be to a good friend. It is common for those caught up in addiction to be full of self-loathing, which can continue even after the person has become sober. This self-hatred can be so part of the person’s way of thinking that he or she does not even notice it anymore. This means there is a steady mental stream of self-criticism, negativity, and unrealistic expectations. Most people have no idea how much this negative mental chatter is damaging them until they learn some self-compassion.
Self-compassion can be described as having three separate components – self-kindness, mindfulness, and an appreciation of common humanity. Mindfulness means being able to look at ones thoughts in a more objective way. The appreciation of common humanity means that the individual understands that every human is struggling in his or her own way and that everyone is doing the best he or she can under the circumstances – even when their best is dreadful. Self-kindness is the willingness to be one’s own best friend and strongest advocate. It is not about ignoring one’s own faults, but in fully accepting themselves, warts and all, and being willing to offer themselves kindness. This is something that the person can do because of the understanding that it is illogical to offer compassion to others yet not give it to yourself.
How to Develop Self-Compassion
In order to survive while abusing alcohol or drugs, some barriers need to be put up to protect oneself emotionally – in fact, these barriers are often in place long before the abuse started. This protection against the vicissitudes of life comes with a heavy price because it usually means individuals feel unable to show themselves compassion. Even after the person becomes sober, it can be hard to let the barriers down. People can do a number of things to develop this ability:
- loving-kindness (metta) is a Buddhist practice that can be extremely effective at helping in the development of self-compassion -a difference can be noticed after as little as 12 hours of practice, but it usually takes much longer to really blossom using metta meditation
- sometimes self-loathing can be so ingrained in the person’s way of thinking that he or she will need the help of a therapist to overcome it
- a growing number of therapists specialise in using self-compassion for dealing with addiction problems, so these professionals can be a great resource to turn to
- some great books, YouTube videos, websites, and blogs are devoted to developing self-compassion
- mindfulness meditation can help one become aware of the self-hatred that is appearing in the mind as self-criticism and negativity
- try to offer yourself encouragement and comfort rather than negativity and bullying
- remember that nobody on this planet is perfect, so why should you be expected to live up to this standard.