Within this article Jeff discusses his battle with his inner wolf; by this he means the fight within us between good and evil. He opens the article with an adaptation by Jeremy Fink about a boy and an old man discussing the “terrible fight between two wolves”. The old man begins to describe each wolf, evil and good. The story ends with the boy asking which wolf will win; the old man simply states ‘the one you feed.”
Jeff then begins to describe his own battle between the wolves during his fight with cancer. Having been a strong believer in positive psychology, Jeff sought out ways to use this method to help his inner beast. Through research Jeff fell upon the practice of Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). MSC focuses on three main points; kindness directed inwards, a sense of common humanity, and mindfulness.
Within the article Jeff mentions “while positive psychology has tended to focus on the value of kindness to others, MSC calls attention to the complementary need for kindness directed inward.” He then begins to elaborate on this by stating we must be kind not only to those around us but also to ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves when we fail or suffer, we must practice being caring and understanding.
Self-compassion also includes maintaining a sense of common humanity. We must realize that humans are not perfect creatures, and that they do not suffer in silence. Jeff states “we can’t always get what we want. We can’t always be who we want to be.” With this understanding, it helps individuals to be more compassionate not only to those around them but to their own struggles.
The final component of self-compassion is mindfulness. This is essentially the practice of acknowledging our emotions and painful thoughts. “You can’t ignore or deny your pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.” Mindfulness contains to two key elements: paying attention to the present moment; and being able to relate that experience with an “open, accepting stance.” To be self-compassionate we must be mindful of personal suffering. This will in turn help us to be compassionate towards our-selves during hard times.
Over all, Jeff’s article dives deeper into the recent-developed MSC Program, which is “designed to teach self-compassion skills to the general population” through an eight week program. If you are interested in reading Jeff’s full article on this subject please click the link below.
Feeding the Wolf: Mindful Self-Compassion and Well-being
By Jeff Tirengel, PsyD, MPH