We all know what it’s like to feel compassion for others. We have empathy for them and the situation in which they find themselves, feel kindness towards them, and even forgiveness for what they may have done. For many of us, having compassion for others is easy, it may even come naturally. But for most of us, having those same feelings for ourselves, feelings of self-compassion, is much more difficult, if not totally absent.
Self-compassion means being kind to yourself, understanding of your thoughts, feelings and actions in a non-judgmental way. We understand that all people are human, meaning they are fallible: say the wrong things sometimes, act in ways that may be hurtful to others sometimes, act goofy, etc. At the end of the day, aren’t you human with faults like everyone else? Aren’t you allowed to be fallible as well? Don’t you deserve the same empathy you give to others?
Research shows that those who have self-compassion have more positive feelings of self-worth and are generally more satisfied with life than those who do not. They tend to have less anxiety and depression, and more general feelings of contentment than those who are more self-critical.
Think about how you treat yourself when you make a mistake, when things go wrong. If you tend to beat yourself up, to be self-critical, to be unforgiving of yourself, then, like most of us, you could use a little more self-compassion.
Below are some steps to take to become more self-compassionate:
- Talk to yourself in a kind way. You know that voice in your head that berates you when you make a mistake? The voice that tells you you’re an idiot for saying something so foolish or for acting in a certain way? The voice that is constantly critical of you? Work on changing that voice to one that’s more encouraging and kind. Talk to yourself the same way you’d talk to someone you care about. Pay attention to the words you use when you speak to yourself. If you say things to yourself that you would never say to a good friend, change the words to those you would say to someone to love.
- Take care of your body and your health. Make your health and happiness a priority. That means make you a priority! Spend time with those you enjoy, doing the things you enjoy. Devote time to yourself.
- Practice gratitude. Remind yourself of all things in your life for which you are grateful. Write it down. Keep a daily gratitude journal. Rather than focusing on the things you wish you had, learn to be thankful for what you do have.
- Learn mindfulness and begin to practice it. Learn to be in the present moment and observe your life and thoughts without being judgmental or labeling. Just observe and learn about yourself. Instead of worrying about the future and feeling badly about the past, pay attention to the here and now. And if you want to add mindfulness meditation to the mix, even better.
- Notice your accomplishments. Even the smallest things each day are important. Notice them and compliment yourself on them. At the end of the day, instead of making a note of all that you did wrong and need to change, take note of all you did right, all that you have, all that you accomplished and acknowledge those things.
- Treat yourself the way you treat your best friend.
- Practice self-forgiveness. You are human and therefore will make mistakes. Don’t hold a grudge and don’t belittle yourself. Instead, be kind and encouraging to yourself. Give yourself permission to be imperfect, to be human and thus, to be flawed.
I think you’ll notice your mood will be lifted, you will feel lighter, freer, happier if you practice these few steps toward becoming more self-compassionate.