It can be common practice for us to be empathetic and understanding of other people when they are going through a difficult time or are struggling however when it comes to applying this practice to ourselves, unfortunately it does not come as naturally. Many of us allow our critical voice associated with our self-expectations to take over when we are experiencing stress, failure, or significant challenges which ultimately just adds to our struggles. This can be particularly common with individuals who are in some form of a caretaker role as well as for those of us that expect self-perfection and nothing less. This type of self-judgment can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and physical illness.
The ability to practice self-compassion takes conscious effort and awareness on an ongoing basis in order to shift our core beliefs about who we are and the world we live in. Self-compassion promotes elevated levels of overall wellbeing that include happiness, gratitude, satisfaction, optimism, resilience, effective coping and self-care, and rewarding relationships.
To achieve self-compassion, we must develop three life skills:
The ability to be supportive, understanding, and loving to oneself especially during trying and difficult times. In other words, being kind to oneself involves the ability to cut oneself some slack.
The ability to be aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment without placing any judgment on our experiences or trying to change them.
The ability to relate to other people and recognize that everyone goes through challenges, stress, and difficult times, which reinforces that we are not alone.
Here are a few tips that can help promote self-compassion:
- Avoid comparing yourself to other people.
- Reframe your mistakes as opportunities for growth.
- Practice healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Maintain regular contact with supportive relationships.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Prioritize your needs and do not ignore them.