Self-compassion is a healthy response to suffering

Researchers found that self-compassion helps people take personal responsibility for problems and help them persist when facing obstacles.

If we are self-compassionate, we create a safe space to look at our embarrassing missteps. We can recognise that failures are natural. Without self-criticism and shame, it's easier for self-compassionate people to improve and move forward.

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Self Improvement

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Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness with which you'd treat a loved one. Self-compassion consists of three ingredients:

  • Self-kindness: Offering warmth and understanding to yourself.
  • Common humanity: Acknowledging that we all make mistakes and experience pain.
  • Mindfulness: Observing your thoughts without becoming consumed by them.

It is not an elusive trait reserved for a few lucky ones. We can train our self-compassion, for example, through writing exercises (writing a letter to yourself from the perspective of a caring friend), imagery, or meditations. These exercises can help us respond to ourselves with encouragement and care.

Yet, most people find cultivating self-compassion very difficult. Research found that just changing participants beliefs about the usefulness of self-compassion helped them cope better.

You can either fill your tank with criticism or with compassion. Both will get you moving, but self-compassion will last longer and cause less damage over time.

When you practice being kind to yourself, you will find it easier to get up if you failed at something, apologise after losing your cool, or return to exercising after neglecting it.

  • Notice what you believe about self-compassion. What do you think would happen if you were self-compassionate? What would happen if you let go of harsh self-criticism?
  • Notice how you talk to yourself. Is your self-talk negative? Do you hold yourself to impossible standards?
  • Examine your assumptions about self-compassion.

At first, self-compassion might feel odd, scary or difficult. Be patient with yourself. Getting better at self-compassion takes practice.

Befriending yourself

From a young age, we learn how to be a good friend to others. We learn how to share and to treat others how we want to be treated.

Yet, many of us don't receive guidance on how to treat ourselves with kindness. We might even believe that being kind towards ourselves is self-indulgent or weak.

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Failure And Self-criticism

Failing at something is common and there are different ways we react to it. Some of us are harsh on ourselves, while a few of us talk to ourselves with care and tenderness.

Self-criticism, which is the common reaction towards failure, is a bad choice. It increases our stress and unhappiness levels while also ensuring we block ourselves from further progress, resulting in less likelihood of accomplishing our goals.

For many people, the most harshly judgemental responses are the most natural. Indeed, we may even take pride in being hard on ourselves as a sign of our ambition and resolution to be our best possible self. But a wealth of research shows that self-criticism often backfires – badly .

Instead of chastising ourselves, we should practice self-compassion: greater forgiveness of our mistakes, and a deliberate effort to take care of ourselves throughout times of disappointment or embarrassment.

Self-compassion is something we should be practicing every day, but the reality is that a lot of people struggle even to define what it means.

Self-compassion is the act of noticing when you're struggling, recognizing that's actually part of being human, and being kind to yourself rather than beating yourself up.

Self-compassion builds resilience , which helps us withstand the challenges of life. “It allows us to weather difficulty without sending us into a spiral of self-criticism or self-blame or shame.” That’s one way that it promotes psychological well-being.

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