Think of a time when you committed a mistake. How did you respond?
Instead of judging yourself harshly for your shortcomings, having self-compassion means that you are considerate, kind, and understanding to yourself especially when you are faced with inadequacies.
It doesn’t mean you love and care for yourself ONLY when you accomplish wins. Rather, you love and care for yourself MORE when faced with personal failings and setbacks. Being self-compassionate means giving yourself the support and care you would give a loved one, while maintaining your mindfulness to grow from the situation.
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, there are 3 elements of self-compassion.
1. Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flooding ourselves with self-criticism.
2. Common humanity: All humans suffer. Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
3. Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them.
Some of the benefits of having self-compassion are greater happiness, higher optimism, more positive affect, greater sense of wisdom, more willingness to take initiative, and increased curiosity, learning, and exploration.
Below are several practical tips you are encouraged to practice to cultivate self-compassion.
1. Allow yourself to make mistakes. You are human, and it’s natural to make mistakes. Remind yourself that we are all imperfect.
2. Care for yourself as you’d care for your loved ones. If a family or friend is feeling down, what do you usually do? How do you show them that you care? Maybe by giving them a pat on the shoulder, holding their hand, saying comforting words. Why not do it to yourself when you feel the same?
3. Realize that even your negative feelings are valid. When something unpleasant happens, we all initially feel bad. We may feel pain, anger, sadness, and it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel these negative feelings. They are valid and they do not make us less of a good person.
4. Practice self-acceptance. Accept your flaws, shortcomings and imperfections. Embrace not only your strengths, but also your weaknesses.
5. Give mindfulness a try. Research shows that mindfulness activities are a good way to center ourselves in the moment. It can also be really helpful in calming down and being more compassionate to ourselves.
6. Try not to judge yourself too quickly. If you easily assume about yourself, you may tend to behave differently in order to feed your assumption. Give yourself time to assess and fairly understand yourself.
7. Reach out to a trusted person. When we reach out and talk to another person, it allows us to verbalize how we feel and we realize that we are not alone.
8. Take good care of your mind and body. It takes conscious effort to recognize the things that are helpful for your mind and body, but it’s totally worth it. Fill yourself with healthy things.
Here’s to self-compassion! Have a wonderful week ahead. May you keep flourishing.
Written by: Tosca Bernardino, RPm. Tosca is a graduate Psychology major from Assumption College Makati and is a Positive Psychology enthusiast.