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How to Build a More Compassionate Mind

February 12, 2021

Our brains are organized around nurturing and generosity. We evolved cooperative, caring brains in order to care for our vulnerable young, and because we were more likely to survive if we worked on teams. Being kind is built into our nervous system, and part of our nature–its is who we are. If you zoom out […]

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Diana Hill, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, international trainer, and sought-out speaker on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and compassion

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Our brains are organized around nurturing and generosity. We evolved cooperative, caring brains in order to care for our vulnerable young, and because we were more likely to survive if we worked on teams. Being kind is built into our nervous system, and part of our nature–its is who we are.

If you zoom out and consider the highs and lows of your life up to this point – the challenges, losses, milestones and growth – compassion makes a lot of sense. Compassion also makes sense considering the scope of suffering of all humans across our planet.

Compassion is different from love or kindness – it’s willingly turning towards pain with courage, acceptance, and care. And, it’s often compassion towards the people we don’t love or even like (including ourselves) that compassion has the most impact.

When we respond to ourselves and others with awareness, courage, kindness, acceptance, flexibility, and love we can navigate life’s challenges more effectively, together.

* Note: This post was inspired by the work of Dr. Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassion-Focused Therapy and Compassionate Mind Training, and author of numerous books, including The Compassionate Mind and Mindful Compassion. Listen to my podcast with Dr. Gilbert here.

Compassion is Good for Your Brain and Your Body

Benefits of compassion include:

 

Five Ways to Build a More Compassionate Mind

    1. Explore your inner blocks to compassion and take a self-assessment with the Fears of Compassion Scale
    2. Use this soothing rhythm breathing practice to calm your nervous system
    3. Try this loving kindness meditation to build compassion for yourself and others
    4. Use this visualization practice to grow more compassion for your body
    5. Use this sleep meditation to cultivate peace and safeness before bed
    6. Try this journal exercise to build a compassionate inner voice:
      • Imagine yourself as a child. What was something you struggled with?
      • If you could give your child self compassionate words of wisdom about this struggle, what would it be?
      • Imagine a friend who is struggling right now. What are they struggling with?
      • If you could give your friend, compassionate words of wisdom about this struggle, what would you say?
      • Now write down something you struggle with today.
      • Take the words you wrote to your child self, and your friend. Write them down for yourself. If you could give yourself words of wisdom about this struggle, what would they be?

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