Tapping Into Self-Compassion

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique,
just like everyone else”
- Margaret Mead

Problems are a problem.

Life is full of difficulties; they come in all shapes and sizes from the trivial and mundane to the life changing and heart rending.

To make things worse we have a problem with ourselves having the problem we are experiencing.

Animals just have problems. They need to find food and shelter, stay out of danger and attract a mate.

That can be difficult and dangerous work, but animals don’t seem to be too worried about it, they don’t sit around complaining to one another or feeling bad about life’s injustices.

Humans have the advantages and disadvantages or being intelligent, social beings gifted with language and imagination.

Not satisfied with just having problems we can have problems about having the problems. We know how to feel bad about things and we can do it really well.

One way we like to make problems more difficult is by making them personal.

It’s all about me

We are the stars of our own story. Even if we are not raging narcissists we can spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves and our life experiences, who we are and what it means to be us.

When we get into difficult circumstances we may start to identify with our story of difficulties. We become one with the story; it feels as if it is all about us and no-one else can have these kinds of experience.

In one way this focus on ourselves and our difficulties is useful, we can devote all our energies towards solving the problem and moving on.

In another way it is unhelpful, we can become isolated in our own world carrying the burden alone.

We condense around our egos and suffer for it.

We start to think and feel that it’s all about us.

Self-Compassion

In recent years researchers have begun to investigate self-compassion as an important ingredient for a healthy life.

It seems that higher levels of self-compassion are associated with greater:

  • life satisfaction
  • resilience
  • social connectedness
  • self-determination
  • emotional equanimity in daily life

Self compassion is also associated with less:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • rumination
  • thought suppression
  • perfectionism
  • narcissism
  • reactive anger

That’s a lot of good reasons to cultivate more self-compassion.

Kristin Neff one of the principle researchers in the field of self compassion identifies the three factors that make up self-compassion:

1. Common Humanity – the ability to realise that our personal experiences must be shared by many other people in a world so full of people. That whatever is happening to us has happened to countless others and will happen to many more.
2. Self-kindness – being warm and friendly towards ourselves through the ups and downs of life. Rather than criticising ourselves (and adding to our stress and distress) we are gentle with ourselves and our challenges.
3. Mindfulness – the ability to tune into and attend to our experience without judgement, neither suppressing or exaggerating it.

For the purposes of this article and the tapping sequence that follows we are going to focus on common humanity.

Common humanity is the big perspective, putting our individual experience into the broad sweep of our common evolutionary history and the experience of millions, now billions, of other people who share this planet with us.

In this context it’s impossible to have a unique problem, whatever your experience someone else will have had something just like it.

  • If you stubbed your toe,  there are millions of people who have stubbed their toes and understand what you are going through.
  • If you had an argument with your spouse, there are millions of people who have argued with their spouses and understand what you are going through.
  • If you are homeless, there are millions of people who are also homeless and understand what you are going through.
  • If you have cancer, there are millions of other people in the world who also have cancer and understand what you are going through.
  • If your business failed, then there are probably millions of other people who’s businesses have failed and understand what you are going through.

Whatever difficulty you are experiencing from the trivial to the terrible then countless others have experienced something similar.

In this context it helps to remember that you are an absolutely unique individual, just like everyone else.

Tapping into self compassion

The purpose of this tapping technique is to encourage the mind to acknowledge the uniqueness of your own experience, setting it into the context of our common humanity so we can see it in a different perspective.

It also uses this perspective to apply some kindness and mindfulness to the situation and ourselves.

Important: This process not designed to solve the problem, whatever that might be, but to soften our relationship with the problem easing the constricted inner sense of “it’s all about me”.

The Process

Think of a difficulty.

Get a sense of your dis-ease with the situation whatever it is. How do you feel about it and yourself?

First Round – Common Humanity
Without using a setup statement tap through each of the following statements while holding the difficult situation in mind.

  • EB: I am a unique individual …
  • SE: just like everyone else.
  • UE: I have a personal story …
  • UN: just like everyone else.
  • CH: I have a unique problem …
  • CB: just like everyone else.
  • UA: I struggle …
  • TH: just like everyone else.

It may be as you tap these rounds: thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions come to mind. Use tapping to settle these aspects of the difficulty and resume tapping.

Second Round – Kindness
Once again tap through the following statements without a setup statement.

  • EB: I need kindness …
  • SE: just like everyone else.
  • UE: I need respect …
  • UN: just like everyone else.
  • CH: I need compassion …
  • CB: just like everyone else
  • UA: I need acceptance …
  • TH: just like everyone else.

It may be as you tap these rounds: thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions come to mind. Use tapping to settle these aspects of the difficulty and resume tapping.

Third Round – Mindfulness
Finally, tap through this round of statements.

  • EB: I am feeling feelings …
  • SE: just like everyone else.
  • UE: I am aware of sensations  …
  • UN: just like everyone else.
  • CH: I am thinking thoughts …
  • CB: just like everyone else.
  • UA: I have a troubled mind …
  • TH: just like everyone else

It may be as you tap these rounds: thoughts, feelings, memories and impressions come to mind. Use tapping to settle these aspects of the difficulty and resume tapping.

Bring to mind your difficulty.

How do you feel about it and yourself now?

Repeat the process as necessary.

Invitation

This is a new process and I’ve not had much experience with it yet. You might like to try it out. Pick a challenging experience to process using the script. I’d be fascinated to hear how you get on.

P.S. You might like to try this as a “tapping meditation” first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Practical Wellbeing Newsletter

The Practical Wellbeing Newsletter is a twice monthly email newsletter about personal change, self-acceptance, self-sabotage and psychological EFT.

This newsletter is for you if you are suspicious of miracle cures and pat answers to difficult questions. If you are looking for a quick fix, this would be the wrong place to look.

My experience is that personal change happens over time and usually takes some effort. This newsletter is for you if you are willing to engage with your own experience and try things out.

2 Responses to “Tapping Into Self-Compassion”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Ravi says:

    Hi Andy, a few important unresolved memories came up and instead of reacting to them or being overwhelmed by them, I was actually voicing my different needs, as in the script, to the different images. It was empowering as I was able to feel I stood up for myself instead of being a victim. There was definitely a clearing in my mind, and I only did it 3 times! Many thanks..it woyld be nice to see this develop, and I’d love to be a part of it ,
    Ravi

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