What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion can be defined as the act of kindness you express to yourself. A further explanation of this concept is the power of accepting yourself as you are. The purpose of consistently practicing self-compassion is to boost a balanced mindset that can lead to overall well-being.
Many benefits can develop by engaging in self-compassion, such as lower levels of anxiety and depression in an individual’s life. For some, practicing self-compassion might come naturally, but it can be a learnable skill for others. A person can lean into strengths and weaknesses present in their lives and seek peace in between.
How Do I Start Practicing Self-Compassion?
Showing compassion to others can be a behavior you actively engage in without being aware of it every time. For example, when a friend vents to you about a breakup, common responses are usually supportive with words of affirmation and comfort. An answer that reflects negative comments would most likely make the situation worse.
So why is it so easy to be kind to others?
You might have heard the famous saying that says, “you are your own worst critic,” which rings a level of truth for some. Striving for unrealistic expectations might become a challenge that individuals set themselves up for disappointment at the end of the day. Instead, people can aim for realistic and attainable goals and desires from a non-judgmental standpoint.
How Do I Foster Self-Compassion?
Different aspects of ourselves are highlighted in our lives from the practice of self-compassion. Physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual methods can be utilized in fostering self-compassion towards oneself. Growth and self-improvement are still achievable in this process.
But it is important to remember that self-compassion is a constant practice that requires a willingness to be vulnerable with yourself and the openness to continue exploring various aspects of yourself as you move forward in life.
Below is a list of various approaches people can use when cultivating self-compassion in their lives:
- Go for a walk
- Plan and cook a balanced meal
- Stretch before bed
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Give yourself a hug
- Use a weighted blanket
- Play with stress-free puddy or playdough
- Write yourself a letter
- Create a gratitude list
- Set small goals for yourself each week
- Practice mindfulness of self-talk
- Use the act of pausing before reacting
- Give yourself permission to cry
- Scream into a pillow to release anger
- Paint/draw your emotions
- Practice patience with yourself
- Words of affirmation
- Spend time with loved ones
- Practice healthy boundaries
- Communicate effectively
- Practice forgiveness
- Express gratitude to others
- Ask for help when needed
- Daily meditation
- Body scans
- Cleanse your energy of space
- Create a sense of community
- Spend time in nature
Self-Compassion and Mental Health Issues
Negative self-talk and distorted core beliefs can create the root of many individuals’ pain and suffering. Without the awareness of these two factors in our lives, a lot of people can continue living a life that could leave them vulnerable to mental health challenges.
Anxiety thrives from constant worry, ruminating thoughts, and excessive distress. Practicing self-compassion can help alleviate the discomfort that can present itself in different mental illness symptoms. Depression is another mental health concern that people struggle within their lives. Some might argue that infusing compassion in their lives would equal to throwing a “pity party” for oneself or coming off as “weak” to others. But the truth is that self-compassionate people are more likely to cope with difficult situations like trauma, chronic pain, and relationship problems.
People who can practice self-compassion are also able to take personal responsibility for mistakes made due to insight they gain from reflective thought towards themselves. Although it could be feared that self-criticism loses effective motivation, self-compassion replaces the fear of failure by not beating oneself up when they fail. Mindfulness and self-compassion are resources that give us the safety needed to meet difficult experience with less resistance in our lives.