“Compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering – that of others or ourselves – and can be ferocious as well as tender” Kristin Neff.
Kristin Neff, Chris Germer and Steve Hickman recently have been discussing the yin and the yang sides of self-compassion in three recent articles, proposing that we each need to embody the male and female aspects of self-compassion. Often when we think of compassion, we have an image of “yin” compassion which is gentle, comforting and nurturing but there are situations which call for actions, for the “yang” compassion to motivate, to protect or to provide.
I would like to invite you to read three important recent articles written by three leaders in the Mindful Self-Compassion movement explaining how men and women equally need to develop fierce mindful self-compassion.
The first article written by Drs Chris Germer and Kristin Neff is called "The Near Enemies of Fierce Compassion". In this article, they proposed that in the practice of mindfulness, we reduce emotional reactivity by making space for anger while choosing a compassionate response. We can hold and express our different point of views, still being fully aware of our interconnection with each other, without harbouring hate for others who think differently. Engaging in actions that care and protect, creating safe boundaries and removing the threat without being unduly hostile. We need to act with wisdom as well as with compassion, where we endeavour to act for the benefits of all beings even though at times we may be preoccupied with our own specific needs and preoccupations that may clash with others. We want to act according to our inner higher values of what is overall in the best interest of everyone including ourselves.
The Near Enemies of Fierce Compassion by Drs Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, Co-founders, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
The second article published by the designer of the Mindful Self-Compassion program Dr Kristin Neff is called: “Why women need fierce self-compassion”. In this article, Kristin Neff reflects on how the practice of mindful self-compassion can differ in different circumstances. There is a time when we need the “yin” of self-compassion, that is to be with our struggle with loving awareness, to care for ourselves, while at other times, we need the “yang” of self-compassion to assert our views and take actions, to seek justice, not out of hate but more because we believe it is in the best interest of ourselves and others. So Kristin Neff raises the concept of “fierce self-compassion” when there is a time when we need to say: “No! it’s enough! Stop!” and we take effective actions to promote the safety and wellbeing of ourselves and of others that we care about.
“Self-compassion has both a gentle and a fierce side to help you manage your inner critic and face whatever life sends your way” Steve Hickman.
The third article called The Yin and the Yang of Self-Compassion was published by Steve Hickman, a teacher and trainer of Mindful Self-Compassion. In this article, Steve points out that men need to practice self-compassion in a way that feels right for them. Steve explains the yin and yang of self-compassion from the perspective of a man. Compassion is not always a soft approach. This is important to qualify when self-compassion is discussed with a man. The yin side of self-compassion is comforting, soothing, and nurturing which many men don’t readily identify with. But when the yang side of self-compassion is presented such as taking actions to protect, provide and motivate, they see the yang side of compassion which is more active and more stereotypically masculine. Men can identify more with self-compassion practices that mean to stand up and to act skilfully to stop what is dangerous or unjust. Self-compassion helps us to stand up to the harsh inner critic(inner bully) and to motivate ourselves in an encouraging way. The practice of self-compassion is a practice of goodwill where we are cultivating a different relationship with ourselves and our experiences in life which is empowering for us all in a way that feels right for ourselves.