Compassion is what you feel when you see someone else struggling/suffering & your heart breaks for them so you want to help. Self-compassion is turning that same feeling of tenderness/kindness & wanting to help ease the struggling/suffering toward yourself. Self-compassion is what you most need to heal yourself, help yourself grow, and bring yourself peace. So how do you practice self-compassion?
1. Be kind to yourself.
The best way to be kind to yourself is to treat yourself like your best friend would treat you. (And if your best friend doesn’t treat you nicely, well, that person is sucking the life out of you. Good news is: you get to decide if that person remains in your life.)
So be there for yourself like your best friend would. Have your own back always. Help yourself out when you need a hand. Listen for your own intuition. Hear what you most want to have/be/do/say. Then go do it. Defend your boundaries. Show up for yourself. Pursue your gifts/talents/passions. Stop hiding yourself and let yourself and your gifts/talents/passions be seen. Always do things that nourish you and fulfill you.
Always remember: you are with you 24/7; you are the best friend you will ever have.
2. Be gentle with yourself.
The easiest way to be gentle with yourself is to be careful how you speak to and about yourself. Speak (even if it’s just the voice in your head and not aloud) in the same kind of tone that you would use to talk to someone you love (so not berating/mean/nasty/judgmental/and the like—and if you speak like that to others, well, I’m sorry to say you’re the one sucking the life out of people, including your own self. Good news is: you can change).
So speak strength, words that build you up and help you grow. Speak to and about yourself in a way that’s honest and also doesn’t shame you. That’s especially important because shame, according to a psychologist friend of mine, is the most painful emotion there is. Shame is also a terrible motivator so if you think that beating yourself up is going to make you do better, well, do yourself a kindness and rethink that.
Always remember: nobody can grow when they’re being mowed down.
3. Be patient with yourself.
The ideal way to be patient with yourself is to: 1. give yourself unlimited tries, 2. forgive yourself as many times as it takes, and 3. refuse to get frustrated with yourself.
Mistakes are just a part of living. You already know that, but so many of us treat ourselves like we shouldn’t screw up, should know better by now, should have done this/that/the other thing instead, what if … and if only … and on it goes. You’re not alone in your failures; instead, you’re in excellent company with the rest of us who are just trying to figure out our lives. Please do yourself a kindness and let go of perfection; there’s none to be had, and you’re only setting yourself up for heartache by requiring it.
You’ll get to what you most want to have/be/do/say if you’ll just keep going, taking one small (tiny if need be) step in the direction you want to go, and if you’ll just refuse to quit. Instead of being frustrated with yourself, give yourself some (well-deserved) credit for how far you’ve come already, for goals already met, for not giving up on yourself. Do yourself a kindness and give yourself a reward (something you’d really like) to celebrate all the victories (no matter how big or small) that you’ve had so far.
I get that patience is the strong suit of very few people (yep, my hand is raised), but still it’s a skill that’ll serve you well your whole life. Good news is: the more you practice patience, the better you’ll get at it. And being patient with yourself is what you need to do to find peace.
Always remember: every mistake is just a brand new chance to do it better the next time and it doesn’t matter (truly it doesn’t) how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.
Some things I’ve learned:
- You really won’t be defeated by how others treat you; you’ll be defeated by how you treat yourself.
- You’ve probably heard that old expression about the carrot being more effective than the stick. That’s true for you too. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish and how much more joyful you’ll be if you’ll just cut yourself some slack, give yourself some encouragement, and treat yourself as the valuable person you are by practicing self-compassion.
- The way to peace with yourself really is to forgive yourself as many times as it takes and to give yourself unlimited tries. That way when you make mistakes, because you will always and forever, you can just try again without all the feelings that surround failure(s).
So will you start being compassionate to yourself today?