When you think about self-compassion, what comes to mind? Is this just another term for self-care or self-esteem, or is it something more than that? The topic of self-compassion has been studied quite thoroughly, and a doctor by the name of Kristin Neff has pioneered a lot of the research that is available to us today. Self-compassion goes a bit deeper than the subjects of self-care and self-esteem, and it has proven to be a vital component of living a fulfilling, empathetic, and mindful life where we feel more confident and stress-free. Self-compassion involves showing our own selves the love and kindness that we give to others in our lives, and there are several different exercises that can be implemented to increase your self-compassion.
While self-esteem has more to do with our perceptions and how positively we assess ourselves, self-compassion concentrates on relating to our own being and how to not be judgmental. Anyone can learn how to be more compassionate towards the self, and we are going to tell you all about the practices you can integrate into your daily routine to ensure you are showing yourself this kindness.
A common exercise for obtaining more compassion for the self is sitting down to write yourself a kind, heartfelt letter. Think of it as if you are writing this letter to a friend or loved one, but instead it is to yourself. You can talk about anything you see fit in this letter, whether it is something difficult you are going through, something positive, or you can write as though you are speaking to your younger self. Whatever you decide to say, make sure it is with compassion and without judgement or blame. You can hold onto this letter and refer to it whenever you feel necessary, and ideally it will help comfort and support you in times of need.
Taking the time to sit and ruminate on what it is you want in life and how you want to feel daily is crucial when it comes to exercising self-compassion. You might realize that you are often quite harsh or critical on yourself when you fail or do not achieve exactly what you want. Speaking or feeling this way about yourself is not conducive with being self-compassionate. Consider how someone that is close to you would talk to you if you were feeling down or like a failure and give that same grace to yourself. Through practicing this, you can reframe your mindset and teach yourself to be more uplifting and reassuring when needed.
If there is anything that most people are guilty of doing from time to time, it is speaking negatively and being critical towards ourselves. You may often put yourself on a pedestal and expect perfection where you would not expect it from others, and then remain hard on yourself when you do not perform or execute something as you intended. Your inner dialogue might be telling you that you’re not good enough or worthy of good things, and this becomes easy to believe. This is where altering your inner dialogue comes into play, which is an incredibly helpful tool when you’re working on being more self-compassionate. It’s essential to sit and think about when you are the harshest on yourself so that you can identify it in the future and stop this inner dialogue before it spirals into complete negativity. Speak to yourself like the person you’re closest to would if you came to them in this personal situation.
You can probably think back to a time where you forgave someone else for something hurtful or wrong that they did to you, even if it was not easy. We have all done things that we’re not necessarily proud of, but the truth of the matter is that this is just a part of life and something that needs to be accepted if we want to feel utterly content and at peace with ourselves. A major part of self-compassion is learning how to forgive ourselves as well as others. Reflecting on why we feel hurt or upset by a circumstance and facing it head on it the first step of total forgiveness, and learning how to let go and not hold a grudge will provide you with a sense of relief and peace of mind that you will want to hold onto forever.
One of the most helpful practices for acquiring more self-compassion is incorporating mindfulness meditations into your life. Through meditation, especially guided ones, you can quickly gain the ability to become more present in your everyday life. Working in a meditation routine is fantastic for self-compassion because this practice is all about simply observing your thoughts as they come and being as nonjudgmental as possible with them. Meditation allows us to look inward and sit with whatever comes to mind, and the sheer act of setting aside the time to meditate and engage in mindfulness is a huge act of self-love and self-compassion that will begin to remain with you longer than just the time you are spent engaged in meditation.
When we show compassion towards ourselves, it can help us find more meaning in life as well as give us the ability to be kinder and more benevolent towards others. Life is too short and too precious to spend it being anything but utterly kind and considerate towards ourselves. When we embody this quality of compassion, it eventually becomes second nature and makes it so much easier to treat others this way, as well. Self-compassion is so much more than just showing ourselves kindness occasionally, but it is rather a way of life that is paramount when it comes to expanding our awareness, understanding, and ability to empathize.
If you are looking to incorporate more self-compassion into your life, we are ready to help you take the next step. We have a team of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists that specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management. Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is available for in person appointments for patients in the DFW area. We also offer online appointments for patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston and San Antonio areas.