Common Humanity

Kristin Neff is a researcher on the topic of self-compassion and author of “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” She believes that there are three steps toward greater self-compassion.

The three steps or aspects of self-compassion are:

  •      Mindfulness
  •      Common Humanity
  •      Self-Kindness

Today, let’s look at the idea of ‘Common Humanity.’ I’ve only just begun listening to her book, but I believe that Neff sees the power of seeing ourselves as connected to others and in some ways similar to others. When we recognize we are like others, it can help us be less harshly critical of ourselves. Rather than immediately jumping to condemn or judge ourselves, we may show a bit more compassion or understanding.

The fact remains that most of us are our own worst critics. I hear people say things aloud to themselves that they would never say to other people. How many times have you (aloud or to yourself) called yourself a derogatory name? Even the things we say about ourselves in a joking manner are often deeply unkind.

I also think that remembering we are like others can help us feel less defeated when we stumble or fumble. Recognizing our common humanity can make whatever we’re feeling less painful. Somehow just being aware of others who know what we’re going through, makes the suffering somehow less intense. When we take time to see that others have struggled like us, we may find that our challenges are easier to face with hope and confidence. Perhaps that is why spiritual scriptures have instructed us to bear one another’s burdens.

Others know your challenge. You’re not alone. You’ll overcome!

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