Self-Compassion For Dummies
Steven Hickman
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384 Pages
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Being kind to yourself might sound simple, but self-compassion can change your life dramatically (and most of us are WAY kinder to others than to ourselves)  Self-Compassion For Dummies will help you discover self-critical thoughts and self-defeating behaviors that are holding you back from fulfilling your potential and explore how you can learn to work around these things to find your way to more joy and satisfaction. We often think being hard on ourselves will help motivate us to be better people, but Dr. Steven Hickman’s review of the research finds that just the opposite is true. When you learn to love and appreciate yourself completely (as an imperfect human with messy feelings and uncomfortable thoughts), you free yourself up to achieve great things. This book will show you how! 

Befriending yourself and coping mindfully with the challenges of everyday life is easy with this practical guide. You’ll learn how to give yourself a taste of your own medicine by turning understanding, acceptance, and love—stuff you already do for others all the time—inward.  

  • Discover the research behind self-compassion and learn how it can help you face your insecurities and life a fuller life as a result 
  • Cultivate feelings of self-worth, acceptance, and love for someone who really deserves it—you!  
  • Explore the potential of self-compassion to address self-criticism, perfectionism, shame, self-doubt, anxiety, and anger 
  • Work through evidence-based exercises and practices to easily master the art of self-compassion as a daily way of being and not just an esoteric exercise 

Now more than ever, we need to offer support and love to ourselves. Thankfully, this is a skill we can all develop with a little help from Self-Compassion For Dummies. 

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 4

Part 1: Getting Started with Self-Compassion 5

Chapter 1: Exploring Self-Compassion 7

Befriending Yourself: A Splendid New Relationship 8

Understanding Self-Compassion 10

Compassion at the core 10

Mindfulness 12

Common humanity 13

Self-kindness 13

Looking at the Yin and Yang of Self-Compassion 14

“Yin-sights” 16

“Yang-sights” 18

Balancing soothing and strong 20

Asking the Fundamental Question of Self-Compassion 21

Introducing the Mindful Self-Compassion Program 21

Practice: The Self-Compassion Break 23

Inquiring: What arose for you when you took a Self-Compassion Break? 24

Chapter 2: Enjoying the Benefits of Self-Compassion 27

What Science Says about Self-Compassion 28

Measuring how compassionate you really are toward yourself 28

Emotional well-being 31

The self-compassion trap 32

Exploring the Physiology of Self-Criticism and Self-Compassion 35

The brain we share with our ancestors 36

Being a mammal and “the cuddle hormone” 39

Activating our instincts with soothing touch 42

Addressing Your Doubts about Self-Compassion 44

The five most common misgivings 46

Letting your experience be the deciding factor 51

Chapter 3: The Self-Compassion Road Ahead 53

Why Self-Compassion Isn’t Always Easy 54

Getting the Most Out of This Practice 56

Having the spirit of an adventurer 57

Being a self-compassion scientist 58

Being willing to be a slow learner and your own best teacher 60

If it’s a struggle, it’s not self-compassion 61

Building Resilience Through Courageous Self-Compassion 62

Courage and safety: A winning combination 63

What you resist, persists 64

What you feel, you can heal 66

The Four Noble Truths: A Buddhist Perspective on Being Human 69

First noble truth: Suffering exists 70

Second noble truth: The cause of suffering 70

Third noble truth: The end of suffering 71

Fourth noble truth: The path to relief of suffering 71

Finding What You Need to Feel Safe and Courageous 72

Opening and closing to adjust your “dosage” 75

Finding your sweet spot of tolerance 77

The experience of belonging and deserving 79

The Compassionate Friend Meditation 81

Practicing the meditation 82

Inquiring: What was it like to find your compassionate part? 83

Chapter 4: Discovering Mindfulness in Self-Compassion 85

Minding the Facets of Mindfulness 86

The Body: Your Constant Companion 88

Considering how you treat your body 89

Anchoring your attention 89

Practice: Compassionate mindfulness of the body 91

The big deal about the breath 94

Practice: Affectionate breathing 95

Feelings: Love ’em or Hate ’em, We All Have Them 97

Unpacking pleasant and unpleasant moments 98

Developing the capacity to recognize feelings 100

Minding the “Weather” of the Mind 101

The power of language when working with the mind 102

Is the dog walking you? 102

Mental Objects: Often Arising, Sometimes Helpful 105

A little less color and a little more play-by-play 106

Five obstacles and how to RAIN on their parade 107

A word about practicing mindfulness 110

Part 2: Traveling on the Self-Compassion Journey 111

Chapter 5: Common Humanity: Connection and Belonging 113

The Inescapable Truth: We Need Each Other 114

Acknowledging Our Universal Human Need 118

Survival equals love 119

What arises if we feel unloved or unlovable? 120

Three common blocks to embracing your common humanity 123

Starting small with common humanity 126

Two Tasks to Embrace Common Humanity 127

Claiming your human birthrights 127

Avoiding the perils of perfection 128

Practice: Just Like Me 130

Just Like Me meditation 130

Inquiring: What was it like to see how others are just like you? 132

Chapter 6: Cultivating Your Innate Kindness 133

We All Just Want to Be Happy 134

Investing in Your Capacity to Be Kind 136

Practice: Lovingkindness for a Loved One 137

Inquiring: What was it like to cultivate kindness? 139

Backdraft: When you experience the unexpected 140

What if you practiced and felt absolutely nothing? 144

What if you practiced lovingkindness and felt great? 145

Oh, the Places You’ll Go with Lovingkindness! 146

Chapter 7: How Kindness Transforms in the Fire of Life 149

Awakening Your Heart and Opening Your Eyes 150

Beginning the exercise 151

Turning your kindness inward 152

Directing compassion toward the other 152

Making a compassionate U-turn 153

Inquiring into the exercise and being patient 154

Remembering that goodwill serves as the common thread 154

Weathering Our Own “Storms” of Suffering 156

Knowing that we are suffering 157

It all begins with mindfulness 158

Common humanity: What to do with awareness 160

Exploring What We Need in a Moment of Suffering 160

Including ourselves in the circle of our compassion 161

Practice: Finding lovingkindness phrases 164

Inquiring: What was it like to offer yourself what you truly need? 166

Part 3: The Heartfelt Power of Self-Compassion 169

Chapter 8: Discovering Core Values: Your Inner Compass 171

Core Values Guide Us and “Re-Mind” Us 172

Finding meaning through core values 173

Your core values determine your experience 174

The relationship between core values and suffering 175

Some who wander are, indeed, lost 176

Practice: Uncovering your core values 177

Inquiring: What was it like to discover your core values? 180

Translating values into action 181

Dark Nights and Dark Clouds: Wisdom Gleaned from Life’s Challenges 182

Seasoning in the stew 183

How failure and hardship teach us 184

Exercise: Silver linings and golden gifts 185

Inquiring: Were you able to identify a silver lining? 186

Chapter 9: Dancing with the Inner Critic and Making Change 187

The Inner Critic: Self-Monitoring Gone Haywire 189

Living with your own worst critic 190

Exploring the function of an inner critic 192

A note on the malicious inner critic 194

The devious inner trickster 195

Changing Your Relationship with Your Inner Critic 196

How our attempts to manage the critic are doomed 197

Thoughts are not facts, and our critic is not us 198

The surprising motive of your inner critic 199

Practice: Compassionate motivation for making change 201

Inquiring: What did you discover? 205

Chapter 10: Encountering Difficult Emotions 207

Where Are You Now? Stages of Self-Compassion Progress 208

The early stage: Striving 209

The “muddy middle” of disillusionment 210

The bearable lightness of radical acceptance 211

A brief reflection to find where you are 212

The Practice of Meeting Your Emotions 213

“This being human is a guest house” 214

Your attitude matters 215

Finding hidden value in difficult emotions 216

The Five Stages of Encountering Emotions 220

Resisting: Slamming the door 221

Exploring: Peering through the peephole 222

Tolerating: Setting your limits 223

Allowing: Letting go 224

Befriending: Sitting down to tea 226

Chapter 11: Finding Tools for Working with Feelings 227

Mindfulness Tools for Meeting Emotions 228

Name it and you can tame it 229

Feel it and you can heal it 230

Self-compassion tools for strong emotions 231

Putting it all into practice: Soften, Soothe, and Allow 233

Inquiring: What did you notice about working with your emotion in this way? 236

Shame: The Most Challenging Emotion of All 237

The three paradoxes of shame 239

What underlies the phenomenon of shame? 241

Practice: Self-Compassion Break for Shame 243

Inquiring: How was it to work with shame in this way? 245

Part 4: Turning Challenge into Opportunity 247

Chapter 12: Transforming Challenging Relationships 249

Connection as the Foundation for Human Life 250

Practice: Giving and receiving compassion 252

Inquiring: What was it like to share your compassion? 254

Anger: The Pain of Feeling or Fearing Disconnection 254

When anger serves us 256

When anger harms us 256

Meeting anger with self-compassion 257

Practice: Meeting Unmet Needs 260

Inquiring: What did you discover? 263

When Being Connected to Others Hurts 264

How and why connection can hurt 264

Burnout and the myth of “compassion fatigue” 267

Practice: Compassion with Equanimity 269

Inquiring: What stood out for you? 272

Chapter 13: Forgiving Without Forgetting 273

Twelve Principles of Forgiveness 274

The Self-Compassionate Path of Forgiveness 275

Practice: Five Steps to Forgiveness 276

Inquiring: How was it to begin to forgive? 278

Chapter 14: Cultivating a Sense of Belonging 281

Putting Your “Whole Self In” 282

Your identities describe you but need not define you 284

Humans are relentless evaluators 285

The Power of Belonging 286

How you resemble an iceberg 288

Reflection: Naming your identity iceberg 289

Practice: This, Too Meditation 291

Inquiring: How was it to greet your identities? 293

Chapter 15: Overcoming Our Ancient Brains: Opening to the Good 295

Making Room for Joy 296

The Teflon Versus Velcro Conundrum: Accurately Appraising Experience 298

Cultivating Happiness by Embracing Your Life 299

Savor the flavor of life 300

Gratitude and well-being 302

Who have you missed? Appreciating our own selves 305

Part 5: The Part of Tens 309

Chapter 16: Ten Paths for Further Practice and Study 311

The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion 311

Three Core Books on Self-Compassion 312

Self-Compassion-Based Retreats 313

Community of Practice 313

Websites, Audio, Apps, and Other Technology 314

CDP: Deepening Your Practice Beyond MSC 315

Fierce Self-Compassion 315

Self-Compassion for Kids and Teens 315

Self-Compassionate Parenting 316

The Best Self-Compassion Resource Ever 316

Chapter 17: Ten Tips for Keeping Up Your Practice of Self-Compassion 319

You Don’t Have to Do Them All 320

Furry Friends Are the Best 321

The Self-Compassion Workout Approach 321

Cultivate a Base of Kindness 322

It’s Better Together 322

Everybody Must Get Stones 323

Practice Behavioral Self-Compassion 323

Cultivate Gratitude in Connection 324

Be Willing to Start Again and Again 325

If It’s a Struggle, It’s Not Self-Compassion 325

Chapter 18: Ten Ways Self-Compassion Can Improve Your Relationships 327

Finding Out What They Need 328

Adopting a Shared Road Map 329

Reversing the Downward Spiral 330

Giving and Receiving Compassion to and from Your Partner 331

Savoring Each Other 331

Maintaining Your Relationship to the One in the Mirror 332

Making Room for Humor and Joy 333

Being Better Together but Good Apart Too 333

Finding Shared Lovingkindness Phrases 334

Deepening Through Training in Self-Compassion 335

Chapter 19: Ten Pocket Self-Compassion Practices for Busy People 337

Use the Smallest Unit of Self-Compassion 338

Find Your Feet 338

Listen to Self-Compassion 339

Find Self-Compassion in a SNAP 339

Catch the Fleeting Moments and Transitions 340

Pinpoint the Unmet Need 340

Maintain Connection Despite Busyness 341

Really Connect with the People You Meet 342

Remember What’s Going on Here, with Me 342

Exercise the “Beautiful No” 343

Index 345


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