Cultivate Compassion (Self-Compassion Comes First!)

Cultivate compassion. What an awesome topic and today I’m going
to talk about cultivating compassion for two of the types of people that are the most difficult
for most of us and one of those is ourselves. So I’m going to be talking about cultivating
self-compassion and then I’m also going to be talking about cultivating compassion for
the really difficult people in our lives. My name is Barbara Heffernan and I am a psychotherapist
and a Buddhist and I created this YouTube channel to try to help bring tools and techniques
and information to people so they can live a more joyful life. If you support the work that I’m doing here,
please give me a thumbs up on this video and subscribe to my channel and hit the bell to
be notified when I release future videos every week. I truly appreciate your support. I recently released a video and I will link
that right here on Metta loving-kindness meditation and I do a guided meditation and I go through
the process of the Buddhist Metta meditation, which is a practice and it’s actually like
really a practice. It’s something that people practice over and
over and over to develop their ability to feel compassion and loving-kindness towards
other people. And the traditional chant and the traditional
process, which comes from the Metta Sutra from the Pali Canon, some of the earliest
writings about the Buddhist teachings. This Metta meditation goes through a number
of different types of people. So it goes through somebody, it actually goes
through a benefactor, somebody who has been good to you and has shown you love, and you
meditate on sending loving kindness to that person. And then the tradition is to go to yourself
and send yourself loving kindness and then to send loving kindness to a neutral person
and then to send it to a difficult person. So let’s start with ourselves because self-compassion
is so important. It’s so important. If you struggle with self-compassion, I really,
really, really encourage you to make that one of your priorities to work on developing
compassion for yourself. It is so important for our physical and mental
wellbeing. It is so important for our relationships. It’s actually critically important for the
people in our lives that we’re in a relationship with, that we feel compassion for ourselves. And there’s been quite a bit of research done
now on self-compassion as really being a key component of mental health. So if you feel like you have much self-compassion,
the Metta meditation practice is wonderful to do for yourself. And then there’s also a number of other ways
to develop self-compassion, including 12 step programs. If you have an addiction or if a loved one
of yours has an addiction, 12 step groups can be an awesome way to develop self-compassion
because you end up having compassion for the other people in the room and then you realize,
wow, they do the same stuff I do. They’re very much like me. So I can begin to have compassion for myself. Therapy is another way to develop self-compassion. And that could be a priority between you and
your therapist if you feel that that’s something you need. So in Metta meditation practice, the way that
I led the guided meditation that I linked earlier in this video is I have you bring
up somebody that you feel very easy compassion for, that you just genuinely your heart opens
and you just a hundred percent wish them well, preferably someone who’s not very complicated
in your life. Some an easy person or an easy animal could
be an animal, any being where you just had genuinely have that feeling and then take
that feeling and apply it to yourself. Now, very often our self-compassion is extremely
limited by a continual stream of negative self-talk. And I do actually have a free PDF that you
can download with the link below or you could actually text the word awaken joy to 44222
and you could receive a PDF which is called transform your core negative beliefs. Because very often if we grow up in dysfunctional
families or troubled situations or even just with the normal difficulties of the world,
we develop very negative thoughts about ourselves that become very pervasive and become the
lens through which we see the world and they really can impede on our ability to develop
self-compassion. So that’s a free tool. If you’re interested, feel free to download
it. So let’s move to the difficult people part
of the equation here. So sometimes when people learn Metta meditation
and it suggested that they bring to mind a difficult person, they bring into mind like
the most difficult person in their life. And that is really, really tough. So that is absolutely not my suggestion. My suggestion would be to bring to mind somebody
who is difficult but more on kind of like the continually irritating and work on bringing
compassion to that person. And then when you feel that becomes a little
bit easier, you can then work on people who are kind of mid-range difficult. And if you have been a victim of trauma, I
would not recommend doing this practice for the abuser unless you had a lot of recovery
and a lot of Metta meditation practice. There is no need to take the person who’s
caused you the most pain and life and put them in this position and generate, try to
generate that feeling if it feels harmful to you. Now I’ve come to two observations doing Metta
meditation’s over many, many, many years and one of those observations is that there are
people in my life who move in-between categories. So you could probably bring somebody to mind. Let’s pick somebody that you dated and broke
up with. When you very first met them, they probably
were a neutral person maybe, and then you maybe fell deeply in love and they would have
been that easy person to generate compassion for. And then the relationship maybe would’ve gotten
a little bit more difficult and then they would be that difficult person. And then maybe something really horrible happened,
which ended the relationship. Maybe they were abusive or lied or cheated
or something really horrible. And then they would end up being the most
difficult person. And then years and years and years later,
after you’ve healed and you’ve gotten over the relationship, that person may actually
move back into neutral. I know I’ve had a best friend where something
has gone wrong and then they’ve been a difficult person and then they’ve been – become sort
of neutral or somebody who is totally neutral. Then you get to know them and then they become
a best friend. So people move among these categories and
really understanding that helps to loosen our attachment to our judgments. Does that make sense? Would you let me know in the comments below
if that makes sense to you? How people can move amongst all these different
categories? So again, I am not talking here about somebody
who has committed severe abuse against you. I’m definitely not putting them in this category. And I think with all Metta meditation practice,
the self-compassion piece is the most important. So if any of this practice feels like you
are not being compassionate to yourself, not accepting of your own needs and your need
for safety and your need for security, all of that is okay. And that comes first. And the other thing I have realized from doing
Metta meditation over the course of many years is that these difficult people in my life
if they were truly happy if they were free from mental suffering, they would not be causing
me pain. They would not be causing pain to my loved
ones. They would not be causing pain to other people
in the world. So I truly, truly 100% can wish loving-kindness
towards them. I can wish that they were happy. I can wish that they were free from suffering,
from mental suffering and from physical suffering. And I can wish that they take care of themselves
happily. So I’m hoping this video helped to clarify
a couple of points about both self-compassion and difficult people. And if you let me know what you think, I would
really appreciate it and I will respond. So ask me a question if you have one, and
I look forward to the next time.


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