The Importance of Self Compassion

I want to ask you a question:

How compassionate are you towards yourself?
Self compassion is absolutely KEY when it comes to developing a more confident and positive mindset. Self-compassion is the process of being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or beating ourself up with self-criticism. Self compassion has three main components:

1. Self kindness: treating yourself with the same kindness and care as you would your loved ones

It seems to be a common theme that people know how to be kind to others, but struggle to do the same to themselves. I totally get it, we are all human after all and it is easy to be critical of ourselves. And this is ok every now and then. Criticism can be constructive and can lead to growth. BUT, constructive is the key word here. When you find yourself having negative thoughts, I want you to try to catch yourself and ask:

“Would I say it this way to my best friend?”

OR

“Is this how I would word it to a colleague?”

And if you struggle with negative thinking, then the answer is very likely a ‘Heck no!’ and you need to reframe this thought into a more constructive, compassionate one. Try to take the thought you had and reframe it to be something you would say to your friend or colleague, so that it becomes constructive and helpful and supportive. Rather than just critical and mean.

Related: Why a meaningful life is the best route to happiness

2. The recognition of common humanity: the understanding that all people are imperfect, and all people have imperfect lives.

Sometimes, when we fail or something goes wrong, our immediate reaction is “This isn’t unfair!” or ” This shouldn’t be happening to me”. And this reaction fuels the belief that something is wrong, as if everyone else in the world were living perfectly happy, unproblematic lives. It is the classic comparison trap!

That type of thinking really causes a lot of additional suffering, because people feel isolated and separated from the rest of humanity and their peers.

So, next time you experience failure in any way, remind yourself that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable. And everyone experiences it to some degree. So instead of thinking “This is unfair”, try to be more gentle with yourself. Replace angry thoughts with kind thoughts, such as “This is part of life, I can cope with this”

3. Mindfulness: focusing on the present moment and being aware of your feelings and thought processes.

Now, most of you have probably heard of Mindfulness and hopefully a lot of you practice it as well. As a reminder:

“Mindfulness is the act of paying attention on purpose, to the present moment, without judgement”

So what does Mindfulness have to do with self compassion?

Well, being compassionate to yourself requires you to take a balanced, non judgemental approach to your thinking and your experiences. It involves observing our thoughts and emotions, without being critical of them. And this is exactly what Mindfulness allows us to do! There are many ways to practicing mindfulness (in your daily activities, with moments of still and awareness, with instructed recordings). I personally like to use an app to help me practice e.g. Smiling Mind or Headspace

Related: Using mindfulness to deal with uncomfortable emotions

So, do you need to work on more self compassion towards yourself? I’ve created this Self Compassionate Mindfulness exercise for you to download and start practicing!

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