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  • Alainnah Knight

Why Self-Compassion Is Important In Healing From Trauma

Updated: Jan 5

The word 'self-compassion' may seem like an excuse or a foreign concept to those who have experienced neglect, abuse, and other forms of trauma. Often times trauma survivors believe that they are not worthy of self-compassion, they believe that they do not deserve self-compassion. They will attempt to shame their way into "changing" or feeling a different way. But shame doesn't change us. As Brene Brown says, "shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change."


A giant rock with fog and ocean waves crashing in the background with a bird flying over.

Self-compassion can be described as being kind and supportive towards ourselves without judgement. Self-compassion offers us the gentleness and encouragement to change. Self-compassion offers so many important benefits in the emotional, psychological, and physical journey of healing through trauma. Let's talk about a few of the benefits!


The Role of Self-Compassion In Healing Through Trauma


Self-Compassion Reduces Self-Blame

It can be very common for those who have endured a trauma to take blame or make excuses for the perpetrator. When we offer ourselves self-compassion, we give ourselves the space to acknowledge the blame that we have been often times wrongfully putting on ourselves. Self-blame can turn into shame, and as stated earlier, shame is not an agent of change.


Self-Compassion Increases Emotional Regulation

Trauma causes our nervous system to become dysregulated. When we endure long durations of trauma, our body can remain in a state of fight or flight, or rather a state of dysregulation. When we are in dysregulation, we are often more irritable, stressed, angry, numb, disconnected, and so much more. Offering ourselves self-compassion during times that our bodies are dysregulated can bring attention and acknowledgement, rather than judgment, to the physical sensations and emotions that are happening within your system.


Self-Compassion Encourages Mindfulness

Being mindful and self-compassion can often go hand in hand, but they absolutely assist one another. Mindfulness is the act of being present and aware without judgment. Being mindful can help us observe our thoughts and emotions without becoming consumed by them and shift our thoughts into self-compassionate ones.


Self-Compassion Strengthens Relationships

Increasing our ability to practice self-compassion can strengthen our capacity for compassion within interpersonal relationships. When we are more kind to ourselves, we are able to establish and maintain healthier connections with others.


Self-Compassion Cultivates Acceptance

Accepting our experience and emotional reactions to an experience can be very hard sometimes, especially when that experience was traumatic. Self-compassion fosters acceptance of our experiences and reactions through acknowledging the reality and responding with compassion rather than judgement.


Lastly,

Self-compassion plays a very important role in healing through trauma by creating an internal environment of understanding, kindness, and acceptance. This can impact your emotional, psychological, and physical journey of healing through trauma.


Resources

Braehler, Christine, and Kristin Neff. Emotion in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Self-Compassion in PTSD * Defining Self-Compassion. 1955, self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/BraehlerNeff-2020.pdf, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-816022-0.00020-X.


Brown, Brené. I Thought It Was Just Me (but It Isn’t) : Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough.” New York, Avery, an Imprint of Penguin Random House, 2008.


Germer, Christopher, and Kristin Neff. Cultivating Self-Compassion in Trauma Survivors. 15 Sept. 2014.





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