Shortly after I wrote the post on cultivating and practicing self-compassion, a reader asked a very good question:
how do we recognise a moment of suffering?
Indeed, what counts as a moment of suffering? Most of the time we may not even realise or label the difficult moment that we are experiencing as suffering.
Before my own journey on the path of self-compassion, I was clueless in identifying my moments of suffering as well. When I think of suffering, I think of the orphans and the hungry, those who are at war or sick. I hardly label any difficult situation in my life as "suffering".
Yet, any moment when one feels emotional or physical pain, whether it is through the fault of oneself or not is a moment of suffering. This includes feeling anxious, stressed out, disappointment, hurt, abandoned, inadequate, guilt, shame, loneliness, disconnection; and the list goes on.
I suffered when I realised that I could not perform some of the basic functions that I could do so easily prior to my stroke.
I suffered when I experienced the feeling of guilt and shame when I had to take time off from my work because my body felt ill or tired.
I suffer when my effort does not bear fruit and my expectations are unmet.
I suffer when I am misunderstood and blamed for something that I didn't do.
I suffer when I feel underappreciated.
These are just some examples from my own experiences. To give you a better idea, here is a great list of 20 examples of when to apply self-compassion.
For parents, guilt is almost a constant companion. Too often we don't even recognise the moment as moment of suffering, much less to give ourselves the self-compassion that we need. Parents, this list is for you.
The first step to cultivating and practicing self-compassion is really to be mindful. Unless we are mindful of what we feel at the moment, it is difficult to recognise moment of suffering and address it with self-compassion.
Know of anyone who is in need of a small dose of self-compassion today? Feel free to pass this on. Spread the idea of self-compassion, which is something that we all need but unfortunately was never taught.
Come, let's flourish together.