As usual, I was listening to a podcast while I did housework. And to change our bedsheets and sweep, I decided to go for Hidden Brain, one of my favorite public radio programs in the United States (NPR). This week they were chatting with psychologist and researcher Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of «self-compassion,» that is to say, compassion for oneself. And the truth is that in my ignorance, I never stopped to think about what compassion meant in the individual context, in what it meant to be kind to oneself, or at least in relating self-esteem to the way we have of feeling our lives and the lives of others.
There was a moment in the podcast when Neff began to talk about what forgiveness means in the context of self-compassion, and then it came to my mind that phrase that I had heard in a documentary about Carmen Laforet: «You have to forgive yourself every day.» And suddenly I found in it a profound meaning because we all make mistakes but forgiving oneself does not mean excusing but accepting oneself.
I don’t know whether I will end up buying one of her book, but her ideas made me reflect about that other phrase by Elsa Punset, the one that states that «emotions are contagious» and about what it means to practice compassion in its broadest definition: «identifying oneself with others’ afflictions.» Because as Neff suggested, perhaps, in practicing her definition of self-compassion («being kind to oneself, understanding our shared humanity, and practicing full attention») we could better learn to put ourselves in another’s place. Because «having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly.»