Most of us from a young age are taught how to be kind, considerate and compassionate toward others. But rarely are we told to show the same consideration to ourselves. As they say, we’re our harshest critic. But what if it self-compassion could change that?
What is it?
Self-compassion refers to how we can relate to the self with kindness. This is NOT to be confused with arrogance or selfishness. In actuality, arrogance and selfishness stem from the absence of self-love.
But what does it really mean to be kind with ourselves?
It means that on a day-to-day basis we are mindful of being courteous, supportive and compassionate with ourselves. Too many individuals beat themselves with harsh judgement instead of compassion. Essentially it means be nice to yourself.
Why is this important?
When we engage with practice this, it helps us recognize our unconditional worth and value. It allows us to recognize though we my sometimes make bad decisions, we’re not bad people.
Research, over the past decade, has shown the parallel between self care and psychological wellbeing. Those who recognize the value of being nice to self also tend to have better connections with others, are reportedly happier with their own lives, and have a higher satisfaction with life overall. Being kind to yourself also correlates with less shame, anxiety and depression.
So you know the what and why, now let’s look at the how.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Treat Yourself as You Would a Small Child
Would you harshly judge or belittle a small child the way you do yourself? Probably not. You would only want to help and love that child. You would want to be nice to that child and have fun with them. You would give them the benefit of the doubt. You would allow them to make mistakes without penalty. When you begin to treat yourself this way, you begin to show yourself the same love, gentleness and kindness you would a small kid.
Every minute your mind is handling millions of bits of information, though you consciously are only aware of a few of them. Many of us have scripts or a stream of messages running in our minds 24/7. These messages have a tendency to run our lives. They insist we do certain things and make certain decisions.
Some of these scripts are the ones that tell us how “bad” or “unlovable” we are. They’ve been running since we were kids. The way to quiet these scripts is to pay attention to what we are telling ourselves.
Here’s some easy steps to incorporate mindfulness:
First, be mindful of the thoughts we have by paying attention to them. Then, we have to identify the negative statements and messages. Next, evaluate if they are true or not. Many times negative thoughts we have about ourselves are not true. We believe they are true but when we look for evidence of them we find they’re actually not true. Finally, we need to replace them with positive true thoughts.
Good Will vs Good Feelings
Self-compassion is a deliberate act of kindness we show ourselves; it’s not a way to alleviate emotional pain. Life happens, and it sucks. We can’t always avoid negative or sad feelings. Never mistake self-compassion as a tool to ignore your deep and rich emotional life.
These are just a few ways you can begin to cultivate self-compassion. If you’d like to explore more options or talk to someone about your feelings of self-rejection and judgement, click here. W’d be happy to discuss how cognitive therapy may help.