Nanci Besser, Fulfillment Daily
The Challenge: Everyone wants to find their soulmate, but how can we be that for someone else?The Science: Surprisingly, empathy and kindness toward yourself is the key to being a wonderful partner.
The Solution: Here are 3 steps to becoming AND finding the perfect soulmate.
Everyone wants a soulmate. Yet what does it take to be a perfect partner to that soulmate? A research study shows us the secret to being a wonderful soulmate, and it’s something most of us have never heard of: self-compassion.
Everything comes in 3’s
At this point in your existing or budding relationship you probably know the crucial basics about one another: Human? –Check; Approximate age/height? –Check, check; Occupation? –Check; Do you practice self-compassion in your life? ? -Uh, no…why on Earth would that matter? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Practicing self-compassion might be a strong indicator of the presence or absence of empathy in an individual. (Block-Lerner et al., 2007; Morgan & Morgan, 2005) Empathy is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another person. Empathy is what we are all seeking from our relationship partner: the space to be who we are without judgment.
The good news: it is never too late to add more self-compassion into your life. If you want to have the ideal, empathic partner, be the ideal, empathic partner first by practicing self-compassion daily.
Here are three secret steps to add self-compassion practices into your everyday life:
Step 1: Look Within
Noted psychologist, Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as (Neff, 2003)
Looking without resistance at one’s own discomfort, experiencing kindness and caring toward oneself, applying a gentle, nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s shortcomings, and acknowledging that one’s experience is part of the human experience (p. 224).
Beginning the journey to self-compassion within our mind shifts our perceptions of the outside world. A great way to start the journey is to journal. Journaling is not a novel concept, but journaling without judgment may be for you. Write about your day, listing your interactions with others as facts without interpretations.
Do not restrict yourself expressing your feelings, but resist criticizing or judging your choices. This is not a “bliss ninny” approach, but be patient with your observations. If we look at an issue or seeming problem with kindness and without denial, it is much easier to see the options for transcending the dilemma.
Step 2: Forgive
The next step is to make an honest inventory of the choices you wish you could do-over. Like the first step, the goal here is not to create an infinite well of guilt. Rather, illuminate any self-judgments, stopping them from festering and accumulating in your mind.
In your journal, list alternate actions for each situation. Then, choose one alternate action that speaks to your heart. Now, tell yourself you did the best you could and forgive yourself for the mistaken choice.
Next, close your eyes and envision the moment before you chose your past action that you wish to change.
Then, take a deep, cleansing breath and insert the alternate action you chose before into your vision, allowing yourself to experience a different outcome based upon your different choice.
Tell yourself that each exhale releases the guilt you felt and each inhale allows you to choose being present. Sit still and allow your mind to quiet and countdown from three to one, and then open your eyes.
Step 3: Extend
Projecting your anger and resentment upon others is an inability to forgive yourself. What we choose not to look upon within us, we often cast out upon others, usually to those closest to us.
After completing step two above, you are ready to share your kindness and forgiveness with others through extension of your time and service. Search your heart and soul for a philanthropic activity or cause that speaks to you.
Or, if time is limited, do your best to smile at everyone your eyes meet for one day. There is always time to be kind and to share the compassion you experience within with others at any moment and at anyplace.
Happily Ever After
Incorporating these three secret steps into your daily life changes your perceptions of the outside world. This is the ideal stage to meet your potential soulmate or to enrich your present relationship with the empathy developed through self-compassion. You will be what you are looking for from another. Combining two self-compassionate/empathic soulmates may be greater than the sum of your individual selves. Figuratively, 1+1 may equal 3. What more could you possibly want?
- Block-Lerner, J., Adair, C., Plumb, J. C., Rhatigan, D. L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2007). The case for mindfulness-based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: Does nonjudgmental, present-moment awareness increase capacity for perspective-taking and empathic concern? Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 33 (4), 501– 516.
- Morgan, W. D., & Morgan, S. T. (2005). Cultivating attention and empathy. In Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 73-90). New York: The Guilford Press.
- Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self- compassion. Self and Identity, 2, 223-250.