How To Cultivate Self Compassion

In last week’s article I started to discuss how to start cultivating the art of listening. I explained that the reason why a lot of people have trouble listening is because they are so focused on themselves because they feel less than adequate due to past major or minor traumatic experiences. I discussed how cultivating self-compassion is the first step towards becoming a better listener.

The reason for this is that if you have self-compassion and self-love, you will be able to be truly present for others because you are comfortable enough in your own skin that you don’t need to always be solely focused on yourself. The question is then, how do you cultivate self-compassion, especially when you have experienced early life trauma, whether major or minor.

This is not an easy path to walk but must be traversed if we truly want to live happy, fulfilled lives in right relationship with those close to us. Let’s start to dive deeply into this.

The first step to self-compassion is to become a good listener and curious observer of your own self. What do I mean by this? You need to pay attention to what your thoughts, your emotions and your physical body is telling you at all times. These all carry messages which, if paid attention to, can help us uncover deeper issues which can help us to elevate and transform our lives. This is best illustrated by an example.

If you are always plagued by negative thoughts or have a pattern of recurring challenges in your life, it may be because you suffer from a limiting belief. A limiting belief is anything that keeps you from achieving your highest potential. An example of this is someone who can never sustain a love relationship. Maybe that person witnessed their parents always fighting or even separating or divorcing. They then internalized that relationships are always difficult and can never last which is why they repeat this pattern in their lives.

If you are always feeling down or depressed then you need to ask yourself why? Why do you feel this way? The best way to help release a negative feeling is to journal about it as this can, not only help you get to the root of it, but also help release it as you express it in writing. The key is not to sulk in your unwanted feeling but to become curious about and explore it as deeply as possible. Self-curiosity is the key to self compassion.

Similarly, if you suffer from physical symptoms, it is not enough to see your physician, accept their diagnosis and whatever treatment they prescribe. All physical symptoms have a deeper root which usually lie at a mental, emotional, narrative, vibrational or spiritual level. Unless you start asking the right questions about your symptoms, you will never uncover the true underlying cause behind them and, hence, will always be plagued by them. Conventional medical treatment may work to suppress those symptoms but will not help you resolve them.

Therefore, the first step is to become deeply curious about yourself and to ask questions about whatever permeates your mind, your heart and your physical body. You should journal on a regular basis on this self inquiry. This self curiosity will help you to get to the root of your underlying, deeper issues and help you release them. In the process, you will begin to cultivate self compassion and love which will allow you to be in right relationship to others. This is the first step to becoming a good listener.

In the next article, I will continue our journey towards self compassion,

Nauman Naeem MD


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