Do you ever feel sadness or shame? Do you feel worthless or a failure? During these times what do you say to yourself? During times of hardship, we tend to be harder on ourselves. This is when we need to be self-compassionate. Self-compassion requires one to be warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate.
What is Self-compassion?
Self-compassion is made up of 3 components: kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Kindness is where that warm and understanding feeling comes from, sounds easy…however this is the main component many people lack. Without kindness one tends to be self-critical, they would say things such as “I am useless, I am so dumb, why can’t I do anything right”. Kindness will allow us to be gentle with ourselves and encourage, rather than being harsh.
Common humanity involves us recognizing that we are humans, we make mistakes, and we are not alone in our suffering. Self-compassion can help us recognize that we all suffer, which will help us foster a connected mindset that is inclusive to others.
Lastly, mindfulness requires us to look at our painful thoughts and emotions and see them for what they are, without avoidance. It is natural for us to go into a problem-solving mode during a stressful situation however, this is when we need to take a minute to comfort ourselves for whatever difficulty we are facing.
How do you know if you need to be more self-compassionate?
Well, do you find yourself negatively evaluating yourself; creating feelings of failure or guilt? If you are unsure if you need to be self-compassionate, be aware of your inner critic and inner cheerleader. Are you constantly critiquing yourself and your actions or are you being supportive and understanding? Self-criticism can make it difficult to look after ourselves and can result in anxiety, low self-esteem and self-destructive behaviours.
How to practice self-compassion?
Imagine you are a friend of yours
Pay attention to yourself
See a counsellor
1. Imagine you are a friend of yours
There are a few ways that we can be self-compassionate. One way would be to talk to ourselves as if we are a friend or loved ones. We would never imagine speaking to others the way we tend to speak to ourselves, some of us would not even tolerate it if others spoke to us the way we do. This exercise will foster self-compassion and bring awareness of how harsh we may be to ourselves.
The use of validation is another technique we can use to employ self-compassion. When we validate something, we acknowledge the truth in it and demonstrate that it makes sense. We seek to understand the feeling, thought or behaviour in context and recognize that if we analyze the situation, it will make sense that someone would feel, think or act in a certain way. The use of validation can help with perspective, if we zoomed out we would be able to see the cause-and-effect patterns that we tend to see in others that can explain our responses to certain situations.
3. Pay attention to yourself
It is highly recommended you take a minute to become self-aware of how you speak to yourself and notice if you become kinder to yourself. When you notice that you have been treating yourself harshly, you will know that you need to make a change in your behaviours and thoughts.
4. Practice forgiveness
You will not want to blame yourself and be hard on yourself when you make a mistake. It is normal that people to make mistakes. The most important thing is to give yourself a chance to improve, find the solution, and correct the mistakes. Keep punishing yourself will lower your self-confidence and give you a feeling of guilt, which prevent you from going forward from regretting. Learning to forgive is one of the best ways to achieve self-compassion.
5. See a counsellor
Not everyone is able to practice self-compassion as you might have other external factors, such as mental health illnesses, busy work and school, relationship issues, etc., that add hardship for you in achieving self-compassion. If you have any problems with self-compassion or other mental health issues, counsellors at Nuway are able to provide professional advice to you according to your situation. They offer various therapies and will only provide you with the one that best fits you.
Book today to talk about your concerns and find a solution to them!
Written by Karmeena Binning (Master-level Student Therapist)
Words from Karmeena:
I highly encourage you to take a minute to become self-aware of how you speak to yourself and notice if you become kinder to yourself.