“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield
Think of all the generous, kind people you know who constantly give compassion and care to others, yet continually beat themselves up. Most of us are quite practiced at being supportive and giving to others, especially those of us who find ourselves in caregiver roles. Whether we have a special needs child, a parent with Alzheimer’s, an ill partner, or are in a caregiving profession such as being a nurse, therapist, or teacher, we know to give support, comfort and compassion to the people who need us. But how many of us offer that same level of compassion and care to ourselves?
For some reason our culture tells us that this is the way we should be – women especially. But when caregivers continually give out to others without being kind, caring and supportive toward themselves, they’ll eventually burn out. We need to have self-compassion in order to recharge our batteries and have the emotional energy needed to serve others. If we continually criticize ourselves, especially for the feeling that we’re never doing enough, we’ll become stressed and depressed, and eventually lash out in moments of frustration toward the people we care for.
For the past decade or so I’ve been conducting research on self-compassion, and have found that self-compassion is strongly related to mental health. Self-compassion is also associated with healthy behaviors. It has been shown to help people quit smoking, stay on their diets, exercise, and seek medical care when needed. Moreover, self-compassion has been shown to protect caregivers from burnout and compassion fatigue, and to increase satisfaction with one’s caregiving role.
(Kristin Neff https://self-compassion.org/self-compassion-for-caregivers/)