Loving Self-Compassion as Self-Care

Aug 28, 2021

In the August 11th session of the Joyful Wisdom Inner Circle, our focus was self-compassion through loving-kindness.

 As we gave examples of kindness we'd recently witnessed, some keywords we mentioned included: giving, generosity of time, attentiveness, heart-warming, connection, community.

 After my husband and I went to Los Angeles recently to visit one of our daughters, I returned to Arkansas feeling unexpectedly weary from the travel, and yet I had to finish up my crowd-funding project.

I was feeling "Oh my gosh! I need a break. I am exhausted." A couple of days into not giving myself as much self-care as I needed, I could feel myself going out of balance.  And for me, going out of balance means moving into the detrimental aspect of my diffuse energy pattern. It makes me way too affected by external stimulation and energy patterns around me, I lose my sense of self. The diffuse energy pattern allows for "expansion", which is often associated as a "good thing", though when the expansion isn't balanced with being grounded, one becomes overstimulated, drained, and disoriented. 

Knowing I had to pull together my talk for our Inner Circle Call and feeling low energy, I decided to focus on how I can bring myself into balance. Trusting Spirit to guide me, I happened upon an Anderson Cooper videocast, and I loved that it was about Loving Self-Compassion. It was synchronicity! I already discussed the topic with my assistant as a focus for the Inner Circle session and our Soul-Care Strategies Deck.  I love listening to someone else delineate something that I have already put into practice.

Anderson Cooper was interviewing Chris Gerner who 10 years ago wrote The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.

I appreciated Gerner breaking Loving Self Compassion down into 3 simple steps: Mindful Awareness, Common Humanity, and Kindness. Here is my integration of Chris Gerner's concepts:

  •  Mindful Awareness of your suffering. Intentionally lean in to recognize and feel your suffering. If you can experience that suffering, then you can release it. You need to allow yourself to be aware of how it feels in your body, the weight of the suffering, the tension in your body, feeling punched in the gut, etc.

    When we ignore, suppress, or cover up our pain with behaviors we lose the ability to release the effects the suffering has on our bodies. When we tune into our body, feel the sensations, we have more ability to find ways to release the tension and ill effects. 

  • Common Humanity - realizing you are not alone in experiencing your suffering. Others have experienced a similar sense of shame or fear. 

    • Normalizing -- you are not alone in this.  You might feel isolated as if your reaction is abnormal or you may judge your feelings as an overreaction or "wrong". However, your reaction to a trauma or perceived failure is not out of the ordinary or unusual. Your reaction to trauma is normal and natural to an out-of-the-normal situation. You are not alone.

    • The power of storytelling is realizing we are not alone. The storyteller has some experience of the human condition. We connect to the story because it resonates with something within us, some experience or reaction or feeling we have had. Telling our stories and listening to stories bridges our humanity. 

    • Release of shame through voicing/expressing. So much of our shame is what isolates us, makes us feel alone, makes us too embarrassed to talk about it. Voicing and giving expression to our shame releases its grip on us and allows us to heal. When we can accept and forgive ourselves for not meeting our own expectations of ourselves or for however we felt inadequate we can regain composure and strength through our humanity.
  • Kindness - directed at yourself with your tone, soothing physical touch, and attention to meet your needs

    • Tone -We have a critical voice in our head that can be harsh towards ourselves. We know how to have a gentle tone with others who are suffering, but we sometimes need to remind ourselves to be gentle with ourselves, be soft and soothing to offer healing and compassion to ourselves. Practice loving self-talk.

    • Quality Touch that comes with kindness - When we are caring for someone, we might place our hands on the person's back or shoulder, or hold his or her hand, or when a child gets hurt, we put the child on our lap. When you need to self-soothe, you can put one hand on your heart, or stroke one arm with your other hand, or rub your thighs, or tenderly hold your palms on your cheeks. Loving touch is powerful medicine.

Compassionate Communication

Through studying compassionate communication I learned in meeting our needs we can discern "what can I ask of someone else?" or "what can I ask of myself?" 

When I focus on "what can I ask of myself?" to tend to my needs, I instinctively place one hand on my chest because that's a moment of self-compassion and it is a signal to myself to pause and tend to my self-care. Touch is one of my love languages so it is my natural response. Other responses may be taking a few deep breaths, twirling your fingers in your hair, or closing your eyes to listen within. What are some of your self-compassionate soothing techniques or signals for needed self-care?

I also appreciated that Chris Gerner was saying that tending to your needs is one of the greatest gifts of self-compassion.  That works so well with our practice in using the Joyful Healing Feelings Deck and the Needs and Desires Deck and the Soul-Care Strategies Deck.

Going back to my being overwhelmed and weary at beginning of August, as an act of loving self-compassion, I had to give myself a normalizing pep talk. I have done a lot in the last year. Organizing my Kickstarter and maintaining focused energy for 30 days took an enormous amount of energy. I had family come into town right before it kicked off, and we already had travel plans to see our daughter that we hadn't seen in too long because of the pandemic. It made sense that I ran myself thin, especially with the additional hand therapy I was adding to my schedule since my bicycle accident. I needed to be kind and gentle to myself.  I needed to accept a big slow down was essential for my well-being, even though I had a last week of the Kickstarter. So that meant releasing judgment or disappointment for not meeting my expectations of my effort and actions for that week. I also had to schedule some me time and say "no" a few times to requests. I had to refrain from social media and the news. I needed to increase my exercise and get outside in nature, even if only for short walks up my hill to see the sunset. 


  1. Ask yourself, when did I witness an act of kindness recently?
  2. What can you ask of yourself to ease your suffering?
  3. Practice the art of the soft-gaze. Let your eyes physically relax.  Instead of focusing on one thing, let yourself look at a wide expanse.  How does that feel to you? 
  4. Ask what do I need to encourage, support, soothe myself. 
  5. Lean into your feelings of suffering, where does it reside in your body? Can you offer yourself Loving Self-Compassion through connection with others?
  6. Practice loving self-talk using a kind tone.