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One of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, Dr Kirstin Neff, has found in her research that one of the biggest blocks to being kinder to yourself is fearing that it will make you complacent, lazy, and about as motivated as Homer Simpson on a treadmill.

The thinking goes that, in order to get fit, achieve professional success and make ourselves floss, work out and read a book a week, we need to beat ourselves up when we fall short.

We think that if we’re kind to ourselves and attend to our own needs, we will stay under the duvet…

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Staring at a computer screen all day.

Feeling that your work isn’t well paid or meaningful. Not having work.

Sitting on a chair all day.

Feeling disconnected from community.

Feeling disconnected from nature.

Reading about war, murder, rape, lies and disaster in the news and feeling helpless to do anything about them.

Knowing that we are systematically destroying the natural world, piling up mountains of toxic waste, polluting the air, water and soil and disrupting the climate.

Knowing that our food production results in animal cruelty.

Consigning old people to homes and fearing we’ll end up there too.

Putting children…

Last week I was listening to the Today Programme, and the presenter was saying, ‘Are you suspicious about what happens to your recycling after it’s taken away? Well you’re right to be. A new report from Greenpeace has found British plastic piled high and partially burnt in Turkey. They found waste from Lidl, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco dumped by the roadside, in fields, or spilling in waterways and floating downstream.’

I felt anger towards the corrupt people in government and in businesses who are responsible. I felt sadness, powerlessness and despair, that something I do every day, thinking that I’m…

Marshall Rosenburg (1934–2015) was as American psychologist who believed that it is in our nature to enjoy giving and receiving compassionately.

Given that belief, he attempted to answer two questions:

What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature, leading us to behave violently and exploitatively?

And, conversely, what allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature, even under the most trying of circumstances.

What a great pair of questions!

I feel that his work is now more relevant than ever, given the increasing polarisation we are seeing and how that involves dehumanising each other as stupid…

Since I wrote about not loving myself very much, I’ve been practising Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) a lot, and it’s really helped. In this article I’ll explain what it is and how it differs from mindfulness.

I’ve found the added emphasis on kindness to myself really valuable. It’s amazing how, even though being non-judgemental is supposed to be an integral part of mindfulness, the practice becomes so easily coopted into another way of judging ourselves.

The most common thing people say when I ask if they meditate is, ‘Yes, but I should do a lot more!’ …

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When I was at university, being an environmental activist was such a central part of my identity that I was nicknamed Captain Planet.

The belief system I had was that polluters and exploiters cared more about money than the harm they were doing, and the average citizen cared more about an easy life than taking a stand, changing their behaviour, going to a protest or learning about the issue.

Eventually, I gave up being an activist, because it felt as though nothing I was doing was working. Trying to live a low-carbon lifestyle, protesting, encouraging people to save energy, signing…

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Fear is one of the major causes of suffering for we humans. It can keep us awake at night, ruin our relationships, make us addicted to our devices, distract us from pleasurable experiences, stop us making decisions, work too much and just generally feel unhappy — even miserable.

Clearly, being able to deal with fear is a major life skill, and one of the many that ought to be taught in school, but isn’t.

Step 1: Name it

One very simple way to reduce fear is simply to name it: to write it down and — even better — tell…

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Do you love yourself? Turns out, I don’t.

Earlier this year, I did a workshop called Free Your Future. As part of it, I had to write down things from my past that I felt had caused me hurt.

Then, the facilitator asked us how those events make us feel now.

My answer came very quickly: inadequate.

I don’t think I’m useless or a terrible person; just not good enough.

Straight away, I could see how this plays out in my business, my relationships, my health, how I feel about my body, my family… pretty much everything.

I was left…

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Going to an all-boys school, joining the hockey team at uni and watching Hollywood movies gave me a very clear idea of how men are supposed to behave. This included:

  • Drinking vast quantities of alcohol, quickly.
  • Sleeping with as many women as possible.
  • Making as much money as possible.
  • Owning a big, fast car.
  • Only showing two emotions: anger and lust. Never showing vulnerability or crying.
  • Being good at sport.
  • Being physically big and strong (with a large penis, of course).
  • Never showing any verbal or physical affection towards another man, and telling your friends you like them by…

When I was at university, I read a book called How we can save the planet. It totally convinced me that if we didn’t act urgently and drastically to curb carbon emissions, the world would become all but unliveable as a result of floods, droughts, sea-level rises and extreme weather. Once I accepted that, no other issue really seemed to matter. Why bother doing anything about homelessness, mental health or poverty, if the rug was going to be pulled out from everyone’s feet within decades anyway?

My girlfriend at the time went to Mexico to work in an orphanage in…

Andy Hix

My work is all about love. Loving yourself, loving other people and loving the earth. I do that through writing, podcasting, coaching, running workshops.

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