Kristen Neff's TEDx Talk on Self-Compassion
Yi: I know self-esteem has a great impact on emotional and mental health, but Kristin Neff pointed out how self-esteem related to self compassion, which I never thought about. Great and insightful talk!
Makia: The cycle of self-criticism makes you both “the attacker and the attacked.” I can definitely relate to this. What I found most interesting about Kristin Neff’s talk was that self-compassion is not buying into an idea of false positivity but acknowledging things as they are. I had asked my friends on FaceBook a week ago how they define and practice self-compassion. One of the folks said they do this by “allowing myself [themselves] to recognize when things suck and being ok with not being ok with it.” This respondent admitted that is something they still find difficult. Another respondent answered that they have a difficult time forgiving themselves. I can relate to both of these. One of the things that I found helpful is Kristin Neff’s practice of taking a self-compassion break (I found a link to this brief practice online: https://self-compassion.org/exercise-2-self-compassion-break/ ).
There is a belief that you are expected to be compassionate toward others but being compassionate toward yourself is weird or selfish. Practicing self-compassion isn’t selfish and it allows you to be able to give more to others.
Mat: I probably thought that beating myself up after a failure was a way to motivate myself. When in fact, it demotivates. Furthermore, self-criticism (self-judgment) can negatively impact our mental health. More on my personal experience in my article in this newsletter.
COVID 19 and the Chance to Change our Mental/Emotional Health
How are you feeling? 1
If a doctor asked you this question and you weren’t feeling well, you could rattle off a list of symptoms - fever, cough, headache. If someone was checking instead on your emotional state, how easily could you meaningfully answer? We often give glib responses like “Fine” or “Livin’ the dream.” Yet many of us in this moment don’t feel fine. More accurately, mental and emotional health has been a silent struggle in this country for years. Consider these recent, pre-pandemic stats:
- Over the last two decades, there has been a 28% increase in the U.S. suicide rate.
- According to the 2019 World Happiness Report, negative feelings, including worry, sadness, and anger, have been rising around the world, up by 27% from 2010 to 2018.
- More than half of college students experience overwhelming anxiety, and a third report intense depression.
Perhaps you can relate to one or more of those stats?
When life is hard, we can sometimes be reluctant to take a deeper look inside. Maybe we tell ourselves we don’t have the time and that we’ll take a look when things are better. Our emotions become like a desk drawer where everything gets crammed and nothing is organized. The drawer is full of things that we don’t use or forget about, and if we do need something, it’s hard to find.
Do you ever “stuff” your emotions? In what circumstances and why?
There are a lot of reasons emotions are suppressed, ranging from earliest childhood to present circumstances. In this article, we will focus on one: many of us have never learned how to relate to the full spectrum of our emotions in a healthy way. We don’t know what emotions are, what they are for, why they show up or why they don’t leave. Emotions can make us feel vulnerable or judged. They can be messy and surge up at inconvenient times; they can be compulsive and even addictive. So we spend a lot of energy hiding, ignoring or numbing our emotions. Denial works for a while, but eventually our emotions catch up. During the COVID-19 lockdown, a whole lot of people have had a whole lot of emotions catch up with them all at once. Here are some statistics released since the start of the pandemic:
- Nearly 41% of adults reported struggling with mental health issues or turning to substances to cope with the stresses brought on by COVID-19, according to a recent CDC report.
- 55% of COVID-19 survivors presented a clinical score for at least one mental disorder.
- 74.9 percent of 18 to 24 years old reported at least one mental health issue.
So, to ask again: How are you really feeling?
COVID has thrown light on systemic problems in both our society and personal lives that have always been there but we chose to ignore. The pandemic is a chance to choose real connection with and life-giving expression of our emotions. Emotions can be powerful messengers about what truly matters to us. They can make us feel alive, connected, and motivated to change the world. Reflect for a moment:
What would real change look like in your world? And what would it feel like?
For 30 years, the positive psychology movement and neuroscience have been pointing out that we can change our brain and our emotions for the better. Marc Brackett, PhD and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, says: “If we can learn to identify, express, and harness our feelings, even the most challenging ones, we can use those emotions to help us create positive satisfying lives1.” This is a process of course, and like organizing that desk drawer, it will take some attention and ongoing effort. But we can change and doing so is well worth it.
At Can’t Stop Columbus, we are committed to connecting you with both community resources and individual steps you can take to improve your mental/emotional health. We are here for you on your journey, no matter what it looks like in this moment.
Here are some first, actionable steps:
- Take some time to reflect on and answer the questions in this article. Better yet, start a journal of your answers you can come back to and review next newsletter on 9/16/20.
- Check out the other articles in this newsletter. If you like what you see, visit our ever evolving website and subscribe to our newsletter.
- Connect with us to offer feedback on how we can serve you or how you can join our mission to serve others.