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Good Morning Families, today is Friday May 15th 2020 and it is now time for a moment of SEL.
Well, we have arrived at the pivotal piece of self-care.
Right, we built some understanding of self-concept, that’s how you perceive yourself.
We looked at self-talk, that would be the messages you send and receive to yourself in your own thinking.
And we thought about best selves or ideal selves. Those would be the just right selves for the just right cultures and contexts.
So finally, we arrive at self-compassion. For emotion researchers, compassion is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. And I would highly recommend you visit www.greatergood.berkeley.edu and search compassion as a topic. That is a great resource for this work.
So self-compassion means being compassionate, that is feeling motivated to relieve suffering when the person suffering is you. That means, extending yourself the necessary care-giving strategies that you might extend someone else, when they are suffering.
Without practice this can be very difficult to do because often when we are suffering there may be a tendency to hide it, to pretend we are not suffering, to try to ignore it, or to try and distract ourselves away from it. When in fact what we want to learn to do is be able to reach out to ourselves in a caring and loving way.
If you started to recognize parts of your self-concept, and you started to recognize some of your own self-talk, and you start to see some distance between your “ideal self” and your “regular self” you might start to see how being compassionate toward yourself may be challenging. Particularly if when you recognize experiencing feelings of guilt or shame or anger or blame or sadness or envy or anything unpleasant.
So, when you recognize those unpleasant feelings, that would be an opportunity for you to recognize that you are suffering. That would be the moment with intention, to consciously find your motivation to relieve your suffering. You might want to think of self-compassion as the space to listen to and validate your feelings. Kind of like we talked about in self-talk.
Use your self-awareness to recognize and label the feelings you are feeling. As you listen and validate your feelings listen close to see if you recognize any solutions. Some solutions may be helpful, and some may not.
How will you know the difference? Well think about your culture and the context. If you see a solution to ease your suffering and it involves supporting you and does not involve hurting you, it might be a good one. If you hear or see a solution and it might make things worse for you or others, consider that might not be the best one. You don’t have to judge yourself for thinking or feeling it, that would not be compassionate, but you don’t need to choose that solution either. Whatever solutions you do recognize to help your suffering, you will want to talk to a trusted adult about them. Some solutions that seem helpful may not be in the long run and some that seem challenging may actually be good for you. It’s important to talk with a trusted adult as they can hear you and support you in figuring out what the best course could be.
In fact, allowing yourself to reach out to others, may be an act of self-compassion. Recognizing that others may provide support or relief and allowing yourself the vulnerability to seek that support can be an act of being compassionate toward yourself.
Here’s the thing to know, humans, whether they are aware of it or not, will often seek ways to relieve suffering. Using Social Emotional Literacy skills is one way to have greater personal power and to have a conscious choice about the way to relieve suffering, rather than leaving it all to chance.
So, for today, if you feel unpleasant feelings, try to meet yourself with compassion. Recognize that unpleasantness can be suffering. Try to listen to your self-talk and see if you can validate your feelings. Oh, and remember, when you are validating feelings you are not necessarily validating the cause of the feelings, only the feelings themselves. Because remember, sometimes those unpleasant feelings can come from catastrophic thinking, rehashing, aggrandizing, you get it. And like Mr. Manzo always says, “Focus on the feelings.” Cause matters for sure, but for self-compassion, focus on the feelings!
Now, if you are interested in learning even more about how being compassionate to yourself and to others can help shape culture and community you are in luck. In Washington State we have this thing called the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, or OSPI. And that agency, in collaboration with the Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham (go Vikings) wrote a book called “The Heart of Learning and Teaching” Compassion, Resilience, and Academic Success” And it’s wonderful and guess what, you can download it for free! I put a link on this update at www.whytheface.org or you can visit www.k12.wa.us and search Compassionate Schools.
Good luck with building that self-compassion!
We look forward to connecting with you in whatever way we can on Monday.
Until Monday, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.