When it comes to making our own personal journeys through everyday life and measuring our progress along the way, we’re often our own worst critics. When we make mistakes, when we experience a little (or a lot) of bad luck, or even when we completely fail to achieve a certain goal, we tend to be much harder on ourselves than we would be on a friend or relative who might be going through the exact same thing.
Self-compassion is the practice of treating oneself with care, kindness and forgiveness in times of perceived suffering. It’s a mindset game that doesn’t exactly come to us naturally in today’s high-achieving, high-stress world, which is why we should all take a big step back once in a while to work on the relationship that we have with ourselves.
Recognize that you’re not alone.
It’s worth reminding yourself that you’re human when something you do goes wrong. The reality is that everybody–including you–makes mistakes, and that’s okay. Likewise, your problems are not unique, no matter how much you think they are. Keep in mind that thousands of people, or perhaps millions, have struggled and are struggling with the same things that you are.
Be honest with yourself.
Sometimes, we fall into a habit of ignoring certain truths about our situation or twisting them to make excuses so that we can feel like we’re right, or to boost our egos. Although it’s easier and more comfortable to ignore what we don’t like about ourselves, uncovering the good, the bad and the ugly is necessary.
Be mindful through your self-honesty work. Take a good, hard look at yourself and your situation without passing judgment on anything so that you can fully accept yourself as you are right now. Keep in mind that accepting it doesn’t mean liking it.
Observe your emotions.
Self-compassion isn’t about suppressing what you’re feeling. Let your mind run and watch what sorts of thoughts and emotions pop up. Humans are very emotional creatures, and we need to embrace them in order to move forward–even when they’re ugly and unpleasant.
Don’t dwell on the past.
A big part of what holds us back from practicing good self-compassion often has to do with a resistance to let go of what’s happened. We get caught up in that “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” frame of mind, which never does anything to help us move on. After acknowledging it and allowing yourself to fully experience your emotions, bring yourself back to the present.
Focus on growth.
We’re all so focused on results these days, we forget that the challenge is what offers us the most value. Instead of fixating on the goal and the destination of whatever you’re trying to achieve, focus on learning and enjoying the process–mistakes and all.
Write to yourself.
To practice great self-compassion, you basically have to become really good at becoming your own best friend. Journaling is a great way to put yourself in this role, and it can really help during the stage where you’re trying to get really honesty with yourself. Write as if you were reaching out to a good friend.
Practicing self-compassion can help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. And you deserve it just as much as anybody else.
Photo (edited) via martinak15