Rising Back Up: How Fierce Self-Compassion Can Build Courage and Resilience
Just the words “Fierce Self-Compassion” evoke a sense of inspiration for me and a calling to be who I am, authentically, in my life. In Kristin Neff’s book Fierce Self-Compassion, How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive we are given an opportunity to explore the domains of this aspect of self-compassion to help ourselves rise up, find our personal voice of empowerment, and make positive changes in our lives. Sounds like just what we need in today’s world of over-exposure to bad news, societal strife, and socioeconomic challenges.
“If a herd of cattle is stampeding toward you, it’s not the time for self-acceptance, it’s time for action.”
– Dr. Kristin Neff
I recently rediscovered one of my favorite quotes by Kristin on the power of self-compassion to meet life’s hardest moments, “If a herd of cattle is stampeding toward you, it’s not the time for self-acceptance, it’s time for action.” Though most of us may never face a stampede head on, our lives often feel like a rush of pressure, uncertainty, and ceaseless self-criticism and the only way to truly care for ourselves is to be able to act with fierce self-compassion. This powerful quality of compassion to move beyond suffering to action is the energizing nature of fierce self-compassion and when it rises from a foundation of tender caring acceptance it’s what Kristin calls Caring Force. Like a dance between loving connected presence and brave empowered clarity, caring force is a powerful expression of our highest human potential.
Like a dance between loving connected presence and brave empowered clarity, caring force is a powerful expression of our highest human potential.
– Natalie Bell
I can personally reflect on how much fierce self-compassion was required over these last six months during multiple changes in my life – a death of a family member from cancer, moving my parents out of their 49-year home, caring for my ill dog, and managing a challenging reorganization at work. Amidst so many ups and downs, grief, uncertainty, fear and hope, anger, and love, it often felt like I was falling down. Thankfully, over and over, I felt held, or metaphorically caught by tender, loving compassion, even just so I could name how hard it was and admit I wasn’t sure how to get back up. Fierce self-compassion gave me the energy to reach out for help, to look left and to look right for possibilities, and to look up while listening within to hear the calling of my inner voice rise again.
Fierce self-compassion allows you to recognize and cultivate your inner strengths, courage, abilities, and resilience.
– Natalie Bell
Fierce self-compassion allows you to recognize and cultivate your inner strengths, courage, abilities, and resilience. It’s interesting that this is one of the factors by which someone who has experienced trauma can achieve post-traumatic growth. In this process the reconstruction of one’s narrative story, of beliefs and attitudes, helps to build a more wholly capable self. This is an incredible growth opportunity whether you are recovering from trauma or trying to find the courage to ask for a raise at your job.
About two years ago my deep interest in developing a longer training in this aspect of self-compassion drew me to work with Kristin to develop an eight-week experiential course. Based on her book and teachings I worked with Kristin, along with a team of teachers and students, to refine some of the exercises and create a pathway to cultivate Fierce Self-Compassion. This is an exciting, ongoing exploration in our human potential and we keep learning together that self-compassion is not a destination but rather a gift, a strength, that unfolds in each moment. May we open to it with a sense of belonging to our larger whole, our greater humanity.
If you are interested in learning more about Fierce Self-Compassion (FSC), and you are an MSC course graduate or have taken the Core Skills workshop, please join us for an upcoming online 8-week Fierce Self-Compassion course. Learn more or register here.