Compassion towards ourselves and towards other is a powerful tool to overcome low self-esteem. You can apply compassion as a short term tool in your day-to-day life, and as a long term practice on a regular, preferably daily basis. While the former is an informal way to use it 'to go', the latter is a formal practice.

Compassion as a short term tool
Compassion can be applied everywhere you go and everywhere you are. Look out for resistance or anger and be compassionate about it. That's all. You don't have to change anything. If it is a cloudy day and you feel a little bit gloomy, embrace that mood with compassion. If you miss your train and you are angry about it, be compassionate towards your anger and to the whole situation. Use the instruction below (compassion as a long-term practice).

Compassion is not just another 'trick'
Note of caution: Do not be compassionate in order to change or to get rid off unwanted feelings. We cannot trick ourselves by applying compassion to bypass a problem. Otherwise somewhere in our mind a voice would say “I don't like that feeling. Let's be compassionate about it to rid myself of it.” But then, on a deeper level, we would not accept that particular feeling, as your actual intention is to get rid off it. The solution: Do not expect any particular outcome, just wait what will happen and be receptive for any result. If your feeling does not change at all, that is fine too. Your compassionate attitude towards it has benefits of its own.

Compassion as a long-term practice
If you implement compassion like the one described below as a regular practice, you will benefit even more from compassion. Scientific research shows that after a considerable period of practice, the region of the brain that relates to compassion, care, and empathy increases its volume. That means that compassion is then literally embodied and has become your second nature.

Practicing compassion
1. Pay attention to your breath to collect yourself. Then picture a person who is dear to you, someone towards whom you have warm, compassionate feelings. It might be your child, your parents, a good friend, or even your pet.

2. Continue breathing consciously. While inhaling, imagine you can inhale the love and kindness from the person you have chosen; as you exhale, send the other one love and kindness in exchange.

3. Go on as long as you wish. Feel the love and kindness that is coming to you and the love and kindness you are sending out. The longer you practice, the more you are able to immerse in compassion. You will experience for yourself that you do not just apply a tool, but that compassion is a part of your personality. It can be evoked again any time you want and especially any time you need it.

4. When you decide to end the exercise, make a mental note that you have experienced compassion. In this way you will link the experience of compassion with the concept of it.

5. Finally, affirm that you have the intention to be compassionate today. Decide to apply more compassion all day long. Thus you draw on compassion as a short term tool. Compassion will become your new habit.

Author's Bio: 

Olaf Schwennesen, M.A. is a certified coach for solution focused therapy and a licensed natural health professional for psychotherapy. He is working as a lecturer and trainer for social and methodical competences and in private practice in Berlin, Germany.

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