What does compassion have to do with burnout prevention and recovery?
Here are some self-compassion highlights
- Close your eyes and move the awareness from your mind to your heart centre, place your hand over your heart, take a deep breath and inhale compassion (because it’s your intention to do so) and exhale thoughts that no longer serve you. It may help to accompany this practice with these words, “I am inhaling compassion and exhaling thoughts that no longer serve me”.
- Shift your thoughts to the present moment. What often holds us back from compassion is our grasping at control and our attachment to a different result. The present moment is all there ever is and all there ever will be. Resist the urge to regret the past OR hold onto the future with an attachment to a potential result and instead, accept that you don’t know what is coming next. Don’t grasp at control, release it.
- Practice gratitude. In any given moment, especially in times of internal conflict, find something to be grateful for. I keep a “score chart” on my phone of all the things I am grateful for, then when I am feeling a need for self-compassion, I can remind myself of the things for which I am grateful!
- Surrender to a higher power, whatever higher power means or is to you – have faith that this power has your back. It matters less what you call it, it matters more that you call.
- Remind yourself that you are not your excellence nor your accomplishments. You are not your body, you are not your thoughts, you are not your actions, you are SO much greater than those things. Whatever it is that has you lacking in compassion for yourself …forgive.
- When you have trouble and you revert to old programming or thoughts to the contrary, find one of these mantras and REPEAT them.
- I am not my thoughts
- I am not my actions
- I am not my excellence
- My greatness is untouched
- The love and light that I am is unwavering
- I wish to see myself the way I am meant to be seen
- I will do better next time, I am learning through my experience
- Extending compassion to others
Once we’ve perfected self-compassion it’s easier to extend compassion outward into the world. It’s easier to practice compassion for others when they act in ways that we deem as “appropriate” and in keeping with our own expectations. It’s easy to practice compassion for those we love. The real challenge is in extending compassion when our knee-jerk reaction is more on the side of rejection or condemnation.
Highlights on extending compassion to others
- Reject the internal propensity to repeat ideas that blame or condemn, or sound something like this… “They should have known better…” “I can’t believe….”
- Stop yourself from the internal analysis to find the other persons ill intentions, and remind yourself you do now know what is going on for this person and you don’t really know why they acted the way they did- EVEN when you think you have this person and their intentions all figured out.
- When someone disappoints, take a deep breath and find a mantra that works- you know it works if the sentence helps to soften your heart centre and bring a momentary feeling of peace:
- I can forgive and acknowledge the innate light that exists in this person and still hold this person accountable for their actions (this mantra is especially important for advocates in the community facing such harsh things like systemic racism and other cultural issues that can evoke anger; consider what you stand for and not what you stand against)
- They are not their actions, just as I am not my actions
- This person’s greatness is untouched
- This person has forgotten who they truly are, I can remember for them
- I wish to see them the way they are meant to be seen (i.e. outside of their accomplishment or behaviour)
- They will do better next time, they are learning through their experience
- They aren’t perfect and neither am I