Self-compassion can be simply defined as the act of being kind to yourself. You remember yourself? The person you love to hate and burden with all sorts of expectations of perfection?
Yeah, be nice to that person.
Be kind to yourself.
When you stop to think about it, being compassionate towards yourself should be the easiest thing in the world to do. After all, who else deserves more love and care and self-respect from you than yourself?
But the reality is opposite.
We Are Programmed to Withhold Compassion from Ourselves
Self-compassion is a foreign concept to most people, especially for those who were raised with childhood trauma, while residing in abusive or unloving homes.
While there is an abundant measure of the capacity to be gentle and soft and loving within all of us, the art of actually being kind needs to be cultivated from our caregivers.
But what do we get in society today?
From your earliest years, you are thought that when you make mistakes you deserve to get punished for it.
You got yelled at, criticized, told you are defective or “not good enough”.
You are laughed at and scorned by guardians and teachers and your peers because you failed to meet up to their expectations.
Now, there is nothing wrong with setting the bar high enough to inspire you to reach your full potential.
But when the concepts of failing, achieving, doing, and being are introduced to your young mind in this way, trauma can develop in the subtlest ways.
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Your child brain, like those of countless others all around the world, interprets the uncompassionate treatment as:
– I shouldn’t make mistakes. Ever. There are consequences.
– If I make the wrong decisions then it means I am defective as a person.
– If I don’t meet up to what is expected of me then it means I can never be deserving of love from those around me.
And so on and so forth.
As you grow up, the voices of your parents become yours. You become someone who never misses a chance to unleash cruelty towards yourself when things don’t go as planned.
In those moments of doubts and shortcomings, you reserve some choice words and thoughts for yourself:
– I’m such a loser!
– Why am I so stupid?!
– I can’t do anything right!
– I wish I were somebody else.
– I am such a coward and weak!
You Think that By Not Being Compassionate to Yourself You Prepare Yourself to Do Better Next Time
By some warped logic cultivated in your childhood, you believe that the harsher you are on yourself for your failings, the better prepared you are to do better next time around.
But that is hardly the case, isn’t it?
The more you picture yourself as a failure, the less likely you are to succeed.
On the other hand, what if you flipped things around and decided to practice compassion towards yourself?
What if you embraced the idea of self-love, acceptance, and sympathy towards yourself?
Do you think your chances of manifesting your desires and achieving success would improve from such a positive space?
You probably believe that by constantly putting yourself down, you lift yourself up.
But the reverse is true.
Failing to afford self-compassion for yourself leads to you getting more stuck than you were before as you become weighed down by the weight of your own disappointment.
Self-compassion is the key to a healthy mindset and body that is necessary for achieving great things.
Imagine if your parents had raised you to be courageous enough to try new things? How far would you have gone if you were taught to look beyond failure to the possibilities that lie outside your comfort zone?
You Need Self-Compassion for Your Overall Well-Being
Research has shown that self-compassion positively correlates to psychological well-being.
Research has shown that people who have more self-compassion enjoy more social connectedness, higher emotional intelligence, and more happiness. They tend to enjoy an overall higher satisfaction with life.
Compassion towards yourself has also been associated with less depression, less shame, less anxiety, and reduced fear of failure.
And the reasons for this are not hard to see:
Self-compassion entails kindness towards self, being gentle, understanding, and supportive.
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Rather than harsh judgment, it flips the script and offers warmth and understanding when things don’t go according to plan.
It means understanding that your self-worth is unconditional and a given, despite the prevailing circumstances.
How to Practice Self-Compassion In Your Daily Life
Now that you know you need to love yourself more and show self-compassion, here are a few ways you can start showing yourself some much needed tender loving care.
Be mindful of your thinking patterns and thought processes. Whenever you realize you are descending down the old route of self-loathing, take a pause.
Remind yourself how useless that thinking pattern is and choose to do differently.
Instead of listing all the negatives, give yourself a hug. Do it like you mean it. Studies have shown that this basic, yet effective, self-holding technique helps to anchor and calm the nervous system through body positioning.
Treat Yourself With the Same Tenderness You Would Give a Child
As an adult, you probably understand that a child with a scraped knee needs to be held or hugged. Well, it’s time to start doing the same to yourself when things go south.
There are so many benefits that await you if you would treat yourself with the same compassion you give to a child or a good friend when they are in need of it.
Never Forget that You Are Not Alone
There is always the temptation to think you are the biggest screw up that ever walked the Earth. But that is a mistake you need to stop committing right now.
There are millions of others who experience the gut-wrenching feelings you experience when you slip up.
Realizing this fact is one of the most significant steps towards abandoning the idea that you are “broken” or “defective” or “not good enough”.
Nobody is perfect and has it all together all the time.
Give Yourself Permission to Be Imperfect
A key part of self-compassion involves understanding that mistakes will happen; that they are okay.
Mistakes are a normal part of life, and giving yourself the room to be flawed without allowing yourself to be defined by those flaws is one of the kindest things you can do for you.
Don’t lose sight of your own potential because you missed the goal recently. Instead, find healthy ways to encourage yourself and learn from the experience.
Commit to Yourself
It’s universally accepted behavior to commit to someone else—whether it is through friendship or marriage.
You are expected to be patient and hold the hands of your loved ones during trying times. And also, you readily provide a shoulder to cry on when it is needed, because you are committed.
To consummate your new drive towards self-compassion, make a commitment to yourself now. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Promise to always nurture yourself and provide a safe space for yourself.
Strive to be compassionate to you during the good times and especially during the bad times. Exercising self-compassion consists in being nice to ourselves in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health—yes, and that includes when we slip up.