Many people are brought up to always be kind to others. But how many of us were taught to be kind to ourselves?
Why is Self-Compassion Important?
Self-compassion is about being kind and gentle with oneself. It allows us to treat ourselves as we do our greatest loved ones. Instead of harshly judging ourselves for any personal shortcomings, we can instead give ourselves unconditional love and acceptance.
Over the last decade, research has shown a correlation between self-compassion and overall psychological well-being. Self-compassion helps us recognize the difference between making a making a mistake or being in a bad mood and being a bad person. It also helps us have greater connections with others and less depression, anxiety, and fear of failure.
A lack of self-compassion can take a toll on our personal and romantic relationships. How we treat ourselves is typically an indicator of how we let others treat us. The less love and compassion we have for ourselves the more likely we end up in abusive and dysfunctional relationships. And when we have self-compassion, we are less likely to depend on others to validate our self-worth or “complete us.”
Here are 3 ways you can begin practicing self-compassion:
1. Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
You would never treat a small child the way you may sometimes treat yourself. You wouldn’t call a child “stupid” for making a poor decision. And you certainly wouldn’t tell them they are unlovable and “will wind up alone forever.”
It may be hard treating yourself with such kindness in the beginning because you are not used to it. But in those moments, decide to treat yourself as you would a child and much progress will be made.
2. Practice Mindfulness
For many of us, the voice of the inner critic is loud. In order to replace self-criticism with self-compassion, we must practice mindfulness.
When you find yourself caught up in that negative noise and mind chatter, stop, take a deep breath, and refocus your thoughts on something more positive about yourself. What qualities do you like about yourself? What have you done recently that you feel proud about? It can be anything, “I am always on time,” or, “I made the cashier smile.”
When you do find yourself having negative thoughts, don’t chastise yourself for having them. Instead, acknowledge those thoughts, thank them for trying to protect you, let them know that you no longer need them, then send them on their way to make room for positivity.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Be Human
Self-compassion is about being okay with our own humanity. It’s important to recognize that being human means being flawed, and that’s okay. We are all imperfect, that is something we all have in common.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes and accept yourself, warts and all. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much lighter and happier you will feel.
While it’s incredibly important to learn self-compassion, it’s not always easy to cultivate new thought and behavioral patterns on your own. A therapist can give you the support, encouragement and guidance you need to help you make these positive changes in your life.
If you or a loved one has struggled with self-compassion and would like to speak with someone, please give me a call. Let’s discuss how I may best be able to help.