• Jacqui Snooks

Practising self-compassion can be challenging, but it works!

When things go wrong for a good friend you are more than likely to offer kind and caring support. With compassion, you feel their pain and take action by offering a soothing presence and thoughtful response. What you are doing is trying to help ease your friend’s burden, make them feel better, and urge them to see things with greater perspective in the hope they will be more kindly disposed to themselves.


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Why is it then, when something goes wrong in our own life, we tend to launch into a tirade of self-criticism? ‘It was all my fault! I should have done it this way! That was not good enough!’ Self-blame, self-criticism and harsh judgments can abound in times of distress - especially when we are at the centre of a perceived mistake.


In my sessions, more often than not, I find my clients blame themselves for situations that are well beyond their control. Or alternatively, there are those who ruminate excessively over past wrongs, wounds and mistakes. In such instances, there is usually an underlying issue to resolve or conditioned thought and emotional patterns which perpetuate these painful ideas about ourselves.


As a therapist, I have found self-compassion a profoundly useful strategy to employ within an integrated program of care for people suffering from self-blame, which can be linked to anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma and behavioral issues. But not only this, I use the techniques on myself to help support my work and accept myself when things don’t always go to plan. There is no doubt that practising self-compassion makes me a better therapist. If I bring kindness to myself, then I’m more likely to empathise with others and bring compassion to my work.


Self-compassion is considered a positive strength, even though it’s cultivated to relieve our suffering. Over time, it can lead to increased meaning and purpose in life which is a more lasting form of happiness, rather than the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. Research shows that self-compassion can increase our ability to unconditionally accept ourselves, while at the same time support our endeavours to live to our full potential. Simply put, if we are kinder to ourselves, we are more likely to evolve in meaningful ways. Sounds like a good idea to me!


Jacqui Snooks is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist and the Clinical Director of Haven Counselling and Psychotherapy in Mornington. For more information please visit: havencounselling.com.au



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