Lessons in Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is a topic that is neither given enough time nor energy. It’s so easy to lose patience with yourself during times of stress and frustration, failing to offer either the tolerance or compassion both deserved and required. Yet, this is a prime example of exactly what we need.

We tend to tell ourselves that we’re not enough. Not smart enough, popular enough, or in possession of whatever else we currently use to measure what seems to be most important. Just never good enough.

Establish a Habit of Self-Compassion

But now, at whatever age or whatever time you currently find yourself, is the perfect opportunity to make a change. It won’t be easy, because changing a habit never is. But, this is nothing more than a pattern of behavior, and there’s no time like the present to make a change.

  • Offer yourself the same support that you would provide a friend or child. Consider your typical reactions when you support others, write down the statements you find yourself making, and tell yourself the same things when you have your next negative encounter. You’ll do better next time…It’s ok; no one is expected to be perfect each and every time.
  • Know that you will handle stress better once you increase your level of self-compassion. As stress comes your way, and, as a part of life’s typical ups and downs this will happen, remember that it’s not the event that matters, but your reaction to it. When you allow yourself self-compassion, you are more likely to respond with the words and actions that better reflect your truth.
  • Give yourself permission to be who you are, rather than always trying to be perfect. When you support yourself you realize that “this, too, will pass.” A negative event is just that…one event among so many.
  • You do not need self-criticism to motivate yourself. Actually, self-compassion is a buffer when something goes wrong. It is proven that people who have higher self-compassion are more successful, regardless of their level of self-esteem. You realize negative events pass, and things can end up having a positive result.
  • Self-compassion gives you a sense of connectedness to common humanity, generates a sense of kindness, and is linked to a healthier self-concept, but it is not contingent on success. The fact is, people are less afraid of failure and are more motivated when they have a good sense of self-compassion; it is simply a healthier source of self-worth.
  • Self-criticism results in lower self-confidence and less faith in yourself; it actually makes you afraid of failure and afraid to try. With self-compassion you’ll have greater confidence in yourself, less fear of failure, and, if you do fail, you are more likely to try again and to persist in your efforts.

Just remember: There is no shame in being imperfect and it’s okay to fail; no matter what comes your way, everything will work out in the end.

Dr W

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Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash.

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