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Warriors Heart: Self Compassion and Forgiveness

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

I like the saying a warriors heart. Sounds cool. A good phrase that many have used before but it fits the topic. The image makes me think of strength combined with compassion and a softer side. That duality is what I was thinking about the other day in a guided meditation group I was in when I heard this term applied in some of the readings.

I am not good at meditation. It is hard for me to sit and quiet my body and mind for an extended period of time. But I am trying to get better and actively working to develop my meditation skills. So this group is a good tool for me to use since it involves a 15 minuted guided meditation and group discussion.

We were practicing and discussing self-compassion. I did not know this, but the root of the word compassion is “to suffer with” (Latin com, with, + passio, suffer). The term references a character trait or virtue, and also an emotion. As an emotion, to feel compassion is to suffer with those who suffer.

The meditation is based on works from Kristin Neff, PhD, who studies and teaches this concept in her works on self-compassion. She breaks it into three components:

1. Self-kindness versus self-judgment. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or berating ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassionate people tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.

2. Common humanity versus isolation. Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation, as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes. All humans suffer. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy are part of something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.

3. Mindfulness versus over-identification. Self-compassion also requires the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.

The Dalai Lama says:

“Compassion is the state of wishing that the object of our compassion be free from suffering. Yourself first, and then in a more advanced way, the inspiration will embrace others.”

The Buddha also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama says “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone more deserving of your love and affection than yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.”

This concept is kind of a tough one for me. I don't naturally think about treating myself like I would treat a good friend but that simple idea is a good way for me to start thinking in this direction. I have found that once you can get out of your own way, then you can move on and do more good with your energy and skills. This is what we are doing with Rugged Human, building a brand that reflects this way of living. Simply being compassionate is a good place to start and the only place you start anything in life is with yourself.

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