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Self-compassion is the Elixir of Life

Are you tired of being so hard on yourself?

Are you longing to create within yourself a shimmering place of self-love that will give you the resource you need to venture out into the world?  

Are you longing to be able to meet yourself with delight, care, and compassion?

This makes so much sense. It is so difficult to have compassion for ourselves.

We can try our hardest to sit in loving-kindness meditations, to make gratitude lists, to reach out to loved ones for sweetness–and even with the best of efforts, it can still be so difficult to find that kernel of deep love and gentleness for ourselves.

Sometimes I marvel at how cruel my inner voice can be, at how sneakily it slips below the radar and takes control of the entire ship.

I watch my dog taking her afternoon nap in the sliver of sunlight on my couch with so much tenderness: I would never even dream of talking to her the way I sometimes talk to myself. Why is it that I can’t seem to hold myself with the same gentleness, curiosity, and delight?

Part of the reason why self-compassion is so difficult is because it’s not a habit that we’ve grown up learning.

In fact, it can seem like quite an alien concept to many. We aren’t used to it and we rarely see it modeled anywhere. Turn on the television, and it will probably only take a few seconds to witness a character on the screen being too hard on themselves, castigating themselves for a small mistake, or shutting down and treating their loved ones harshly. Self-compassion is just not something that our culture teaches us to embody: not towards ourselves and not towards each other. And it doesn’t make for very dramatic entertainment!

In order to cultivate self-compassion, we must seek out the teachers and community members who make it their mission to transform themselves through loving attention.

It is important to treat self-compassion as we would treat any other new habit: we must practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more.

We have to get in our self-compassion squats, our lunges, our sit-ups, our bench presses.

And we have to do it over and over, so that our bodies can transform, can replenish, can take it in and learn it as though it was always there: the gentle voice, the hand on the shoulder, the kindness of self-love.

If this is speaking to you, then you may be excited to know that my colleagues and I have created a five-day Self-Compassion Boot Camp, hosted by the NVC Academy, in order to have a dedicated space for this intensive self-compassion practice.

When we have ample self-compassion neurons running between our prefrontal cortex and our limbic system, it supports the wellbeing of our entire body.

It gives us more capacity for choice by letting us be less reactive, and giving us the courage to choose repair instead of withdrawal.

I like to describe it like this: Self-compassion is the constant accompaniment that changes a life from being spent trying to distract ourselves from the overwhelm of anxiety, into a life filled with an embodied celebration of the present moment that can hold the difficulties of the world with care.

It allows us to know, deeply, the sensations of our own body and how we are carried by it. It gives us access to replenishment and renewal.

Self-compassion, I think, is the elixir of life!


Sarah Peyton

Sarah Peyton, Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication and neuroscience educator, integrates brain science and the use of resonant language to heal personal and collective trauma with exquisite gentleness. Sarah is a sought-after expert who brings neuroscience expertise together with depth work, self-compassion, and the transformative potential of language. She works… MORE

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