At first, self-compassion might feel odd, scary or difficult. Be patient with yourself. Getting better at self-compassion takes practice.
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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.
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.
Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness with which you'd treat a loved one. Self-compassion consists of three ingredients:
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.
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.
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.
We often walk a fine line between feeling challenged with the tasks we set and feeling overwhelmed by them.
Living in a constant state of busyness as a badge of honour can cause stress and damage our health and relationships. And when stress is self-made, it is less likely to disappear.