Being kind to yourself is showing self-compassion. Many people confuse this with self-indulgence or selfishness, and so may be critical of you when you talk about how pleased you are with your results or express your delight at having achieved a milestone. Yet, they may have no criticism when you’re quick to congratulate someone else on their achievements.
It is important to be kind to yourself, if not more so, than being kind to others. Treat yourself with compassion as you would a friend. Respect your achievements as you would those of a friend. There are many benefits to showing compassion to yourself as you would to a friend. The following are just three of them.
- Increased Optimism
Being kind to yourself means you can stop that vicious cycle of self-blame and recrimination. It prevents you from dwelling on past mistakes. Self-compassion allows you to build your resilience and confidence so you can pick yourself up and get back on track.
This is an area that I have had to work on. It is so easy to rehash past events, and past mistakes, and spend a lot of time replaying the events in my mind. I’ve had to learn to tell myself to stop the movie reel. The past is gone and I don’t live there anymore. There’s no point in telling myself what I could have done differently. I live in the present.
When you treat yourself as you would a friend, your anxiety levels drop, your mood lifts. You become more optimistic and hopeful about the future.
Become more Mindful
Perhaps the best way to start your self-compassion practice is to adopt a more mindful attitude to life. Mindfulness focuses on the acceptance of who you are, where you are right now — with all your faults and failings, as well as your inner beauty and kindness to yourself and others. Accept that whatever you’re experiencing and feeling in the present moment is okay.
Mindfulness and self-compassion help you to overcome denial and hesitation in your reality. It allows space for hope to come in. And hope has been described as an anchor, which keeps you firmly grounded with the realization that as long as there is hope, positive outcomes are possible.
Accept that Hard Times Are Part of the Deal
Self-compassion accepts that all human lives are a mixture of challenges and happy times. Very often, you have little or no control over the negative things that happen in life. All you can do is decide how you’ll react when faced with these situations.
You always have choices and the choices you make will reflect who you are at the core. Will you be overwhelmed or will you be angry? Or will you roll with punches, learn from your experiences, and get back up again? Will you seek to discover if there are lessons you can learn, or will you choose to wallow in self-pity and give up?
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
~Charles R. Swindoll.
In situations that cause you to be fearful, illness, natural disasters, or any other of life’s stressors, self-compassion allows you to take guilt or blame out of the equation and deal with whatever you’re faced with.
Treat Yourself As You Would A Friend
Take a moment to look at how you’re reacting. What is your self-talk saying to you? Are you reassuring yourself that things will work out okay, or are you beating yourself up for something you did or didn’t do? Would you talk to your best friend like that? How would they feel?
Be as gentle in your self-talk as you would to a loved one who is in crisis. Be loving and kind, and reassuring. Extend the hand of hope to your own heart with thankfulness.