The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive

Add to My MSN

The Self-Compassionate Caregiver

6/10/2011 11:32:36 AM

Tags: care giving, caregivers, self-compassion, compassion, psychology, Buddhism, happiness, stress, autism, Kristin Neff, Spirituality, Psychology Today, Margret Aldrich

Peony 

Those who have taken care of a seriously ill partner, a child with special needs, or an incapacitated parent on a long-term basis know the relentless, sapping strain of it. Kristin Neff—a professor of human development and mother of an autistic son, writing for Psychology Today—opines that every caregiver should practice self-compassion to “recharge our batteries and have the emotional energy needed to serve others.”

What, exactly, is self-compassion? Neff turns to the writings of various Buddhist scholars to draw out three main components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. She explains:

Self-kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental. Common humanity involves recognizing that all humans are imperfect, fail and make mistakes. Mindfulness involves being aware of one’s painful feelings in a clear and balanced manner so that one neither ignores nor obsesses about disliked aspects of oneself or one’s life.

Though we can all benefit from practicing self-compassion, Neff sees it as crucial for overburdened, and sometimes underappreciated, caregivers. “Not only will it help to get through difficult situations,” she says, “it will lead to greater happiness and peace of mind.” She continues:

As a mother of a child with autism, I can tell you what a lifesaver self-compassion was for me….  When my son screamed and screamed because his nervous system was being overloaded and I couldn’t figure out the cause, I would soothe myself with kindness.  When my son lost it in the grocery store and strangers gave me nasty looks because they thought I wasn’t disciplining my child properly, I’d give myself the compassion I wasn’t receiving from others. In short, self-compassion helped me cope, and that put me in the balanced emotional mind state needed to deal skillfully with whatever new challenges confronted me.

Want to find out how much self-compassion you have? Take Neff’s online test.

Source: Psychology Today  

Image by kevinpoh, licensed under Creative Commons.

 

 



Related Content

Perpetually Hovering Helicopter Parents

The legacy of overparenting may last well into a child’s adulthood...

Incredible Illustrations from Iranian Childrens Books

The literary blog The Rumpus has posted a collection of images from found Iranian children's books.....

Buddhism’s Childlike Wisdom

Buddhism can return people to that “perceptual simplicity” of childhood...

Parents Could Be Held Liable for Kids’ Facebook Activity

Cyberbullying may result in charges against parents for negligence.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!