lessons in self-compassion

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“Why is it so easy to be nice to myself and never struggle with being overly self-critical or feeling shameful or negatively talking to myself or putting myself down?,” said probably no one, ever. (And, if there are people out there like this, kuddos to you and I can be your friend and learn from you? Seriously.)

I signed up for one of Brené Brown’s Courage Works courses, Living Brave Semester, at the start of the year with the intention of digging deeper into two of my favorite books, Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m a HUGE Brené Brown fan and am forever grateful to my therapist for introducing me to her amazing work.

After devouring the aforementioned books last year, I was elated to discover the online course and promised myself I would stay diligent on the weekly lessons and make it a priority. And, while my intentions were good, life happened, as usual, and I let other things take priority and fill the time I had devoted to completing the weekly lessons. Luckily, the course is structured in such a way that participants can complete lessons on their own timeline, so I’ve been spending the past two weekends attempting to catch up and, once again, pledging to prioritize completing the lessons. I received some assistance from Mother Nature this weekend in the form of a late snowstorm and have managed to make it through multiple lessons, despite the release of the second season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt did not. And I’m really glad I did because one of the lessons included self-compassion, an area in which I, like many others, could improve quite a bit.

As a testament to this, we were prompted during the lesson to test our level of self-compassion at selfcompassion.org, which is based on the self-compassion studies of Dr. Kristin Neff. (If you haven’t read her book, Self-CompassionI highly recommend it.) My results, below, although not really a surprise when I’m honest with myself, were a bit disappointing. While I just squeaked by in scoring in the moderate range for overall self-kindness (moderate = 2.5-3.5), my score for self-judgment was really the one that hit me the hardest (in that case, a score closer to five indicates less self-compassion).

I know I’m tough on myself but I thought I had been improving with the work I’ve been doing in therapy, practicing mindfulness and getting older and experiencing more life lessons. However, this test would indicate I’ve got quite a way to go in treating myself with more kindness and less judgment.

The overly self-critical part of me really wants to be disappointed in my scores but the self-compassionate me realizes I, like us all, am a work in progress. The latter also recognizes that by knowing this information, I am now in a place where I can learn from it and grow and hopefully someday see my scores and self-compassion improve. Because I really do want to be nicer to myself and learn to really, really love and appreciate who I am. I really do. Sometimes it just so much easier said than done. But, I’ll get there. I know I will because I’m already a lot closer than I used to be.

My self-compassion scores:
Self-Kindness: 2.60
Self-Judgment: 4.00
Common Humanity: 3.00
Isolation: 3.25
Mindfulness: 2.50
Over-Identification: 2.75
Overall score: 2.68

Scale: Average overall self-compassion scores tend to be around 3.0 on the 1-5 scale, so you can interpret your overall score accordingly. As a rough guide, a score of 1-2.5 for your overall self-compassion score indicates you are low in self-compassion, 2.5-3.5 indicates you are moderate, and 3.5-5.0 means you are high. Remember that higher scores for the Self-Judgment, Isolation, and Over-Identification subscales indicate less self-compassion, while lower scores on these dimensions are indicative of more self-compassion (these subscales are automatically reverse-coded when your overall self-compassion score is calculated.)

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