5 Ways to Shift From Suffering to Self-Compassion

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” - Buddha

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Though we try as much as we can to create happiness for ourselves, we will always experience periods of suffering. As long as we are human beings living on Earth, we will feel pain. We cannot erase our struggles, but we can choose to face those difficult moments with self-compassion.

When we are experiencing chronic stress, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, grief, or depression, we may feel overwhelmed by pain because we’re alienated from the basic understanding of who we truly are. It can make us feel as though we are drowning, but it is possible to access the oxygen of love, care, and compassion in those most challenging moments. When we recognize that we are made of infinite energy emanating from a source of unimaginable creative power, and that we are always loved, the feeling of being suffocated by our suffering dissipates and we can move into self-compassion.

Here are five things you can do to shift from anguish to a place of peace and become a positive thought warrior.

 Summoning Self-Compassion in a Time of Suffering

1. Become aware of your self-talk.

So often, we are our own worst enemy. Negative self-talk not only makes us more anxious and stressed, it doesn’t do us any good at all. The more you become aware of your self-talk, the better you will get to the underlying attitude and beliefs. Simply being aware is key. The next time you notice your negative self-talk, take a deep breath and imagine what you would tell yourself from a place of unconditional love.

2. Enter thought rehab.

Start with one positive thought. It will lead to a positive inner dialogue. Do something you’re good at (gardening, DIY projects, painting, cooking, etc.) and compliment yourself on a job well done. Consider how much joy that activity brings you and congratulate yourself for choosing to do something that makes you happy. When we train ourselves to acknowledge when we’re joyful, it becomes easier to detect positive thoughts.

3. Give thanks for all of your wonderful qualities.

When we are suffering, we may lose sight of the wonderful qualities that each of us has. Write a list of all of the things you love about yourself, and that others may appreciate about you. They could be talents, skills, qualities, or attitudes. Are you an attentive and compassionate listener? Write it down. Do you love animals? Write it down. Do you have an appreciation for music or for books? Write it down. Post your list someplace where you will see it each day.

4. Create positive thought chains.

When you’re doing something you like, get comfortable talking to yourself about it! Why does it bring you joy? What does it make you grateful for? If negative thoughts intrude, don’t ignore them; instead, put that energy back into a positive idea until eventually, it becomes a chain reaction of thinking positively.

5. Focus on your dreams.

Your blocks live in the same place as your dreams. Are you thinking about your blocks or your dreams? What you think about is what you give energy to, and that is what unfolds in front of you. So put energy into focusing on your dreams, rather than what you think blocks you from happiness.

Becoming a positive thought warrior doesn’t mean you will never have negative thoughts and feelings again. It means the way you look at suffering will shift, and you will be able to experience more self-compassion. It can be hard to take action when we are in pain, but by directing some of our energy into shifting our thoughts we can reap great benefits.

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