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What It Means to Be Self-Compassionate & How You Can Do It

I have talked about how self-compassion is a key component when it comes to cultivating optimism and showing up for yourself – but what exactly is self-compassion and how can we foster it in our everyday lives? Self-compassion is the positive attitude, forgiveness and nurturement we show toward ourselves; it’s acknowledging your own sufferings, faults and mistakes but responding with kindness and understanding, without judgment or evaluation. Basically, talk to and treat yourself as you would a friend. Most importantly, having self-compassion means that you honor and accept your humanness; the more you open your heart to the reality and ups and downs of life instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you’ll be able to feel compassion for yourself (and others!). Self-compassion can set the stage for better health, relationships and overall well-being. Cultivating it involves finding a healthy balance between self-acceptance and working toward self-improvement. For example, instead of criticizing yourself for making a mistake, you can practice self-compassion by adopting a kind, but realistic, view of your experience.

Dr. Kristin Neff identified 3 main components of self-compassion: self-kindness vs. self-judgment, common humanity vs. isolation and mindfulness vs. over-identification. (You can read more about it in detail here!) To sum it up, practicing self-compassion consists of becoming aware of your negative self-talk and replacing your inner critic with a kinder, gentler voice; acknowledging that suffering and personal failure are part of the universal experience of being human; and observing your negative emotions without reacting to, focusing on or suppressing them.

Self-compassion is proven to have significant mental and emotional benefits. It can increase motivation, boost mood and overall happiness, improve body image, enhance self-worth, foster resilience and reduce mental health problems, especially anxiety, depression and stress.

Between juggling school and work and going through a few growing pains (spiritual growing pains and growing pains in my sobriety, relationships and identity) – and, of course, the current state of the world – my anxiety has been at an all-time high this year. So I’ve been working on showing myself more compassion, which has helped me IMMENSELY.

If you don’t know where or how to start, you can start showing yourself compassion by:

-Being aware of how you speak to and think of yourself

-Comforting your body by listening to and giving it what it needs

-Acknowledging your feelings (journaling is a great way to describe situations without blaming anyone)

-Giving yourself encouragement (aka daily affirmations)

-Practicing mindfulness with TM, breathwork, etc.

-Letting yourself make mistakes and forgiving yourself for making them

-Avoiding making judgements and assumptions about yourself

Would you consider yourself self-compassionate? I’d love to hear how you accept your humanness and show yourself compassion!