Self-Compassion and Self-Defeating Patterns

What is self-compassion? Self-compassion is a mindful way of recognizing when you are experiencing a moment of emotional or physical suffering (or both) and choosing to behave kindly toward yourself in response to the pain. For example, self-compassion can be useful when you notice the temptation to pursue someone whom you know to be emotionally withdrawn or simply not a good fit with your idea of a suitable friend or romantic partner. When you notice such an urge, you might invite yourself to cultivate self-compassion in that very moment by taking the following actions:

  1. Recognize the urge to repeat an old and unhelpful pattern and consider that the urge may simply be your mind’s way of communicating to you that you have an unmet need that requires your attention.
  2. Identify the need or emotion beneath the urge to repeat the self-defeating pattern. For example, if you find yourself drawn to pursue an unavailable person, you might notice that you are feeling lonely and in need of reconnecting with friends or family.
  3. Validate and reassure the part of yourself that wants to “fall back” into an old way of being by quietly saying to yourself something like: “Sweetheart, I sense that you are feeling lonely and need to be comforted…I’m here for you now, and want you to know that I am going to take good care of you!” You might even place your hand upon your heart while saying these words if you feel comfortable doing so.

You might try taking these three steps over the next few weeks to see if it makes a difference in how you relate to yourself through the challenging moments of your life.


Written by Tony Madril

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