“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life”.
Self Compassion = treating yourself with same kindness you would treat your child, partner, parent, or best friend if they were hurting. What a novel idea! It sounds so obvious when you write it down but when you start to think about it a little deeper, I bet you can think of at least 5 times in the recent past when something went wrong and instead of offering yourself a kind word and some TLC you possibly called yourself a nasty name and got on with life.
Or what about the opinion you have about yourself? Do you wake up every morning and look in the mirror and think of how beautiful you are? Do you get dressed and think of how amazing you look in whatever you are wearing. Or is this the morning routine: begrudgingly get out of bed, muse on how tired you look, get annoyed with how much you hate your clothes, and then get even more annoyed about how they make you look, or how you make them look! If this is not a familiar scenario then I applaud and envy you in equal measures! But what if you did that to your best friend or your partner every day?! They wouldn’t stick around…but you have to live with yourself.
So why are we so mean to ourselves? What is to be gained by the constant criticism and lack of compassion? Absolutely nothing good is the answer. There are huge studies into the psychology of this negative mind chatter and how damaging it can be to our state of minds. And it can roll into how we constantly judge others as well, “misery loves company” springs to mind.
“When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in way that can transform our lives”
So what can be gained by giving ourselves a break and how can we put self compassion into action in our lives?
Recognizing the Signs
- When someone offers you a compliment do you immediately dismiss it with some self deprecating comment?
- When you look in the mirror do you like what you see or do you notice your flaws and focus on them?
- If you make a mistake or something doesn’t go to plan do immediately start to blame yourself or others?
- If you suffer a major trauma, prolonged stress due to negative circumstances, or grief do you turn to external measures to ease the pain; drinking, medication, shopping, throwing yourself into your work, constantly distracting yourself?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above, chances are you could do with a little lesson on how to love and care for yourself a little more.
What you can do
- When you are feeling low, or something bad has happened, take some time to be with yourself in a comforting environment. Warmth, soft music or sounds of nature, anything that you instinctually find soothing, will help you to deal with your emotions. Not avoid them. Avoiding how you really feel (contrary to popular opinion!) will only compound issues and resurface again.
- Paying yourself regular compliments. It might feel silly at first, but when you look in the mirror, instead of zoning in on what you don’t like, just say nice things. And actually say in them in your mind or out loud “I am beautiful”, “I love my eyes”, “I am lovely person”…and so on. When I first started doing this “mirror work”, paying myself compliments, I wont lie, I was cringing! But the more I did it, the more I started to see myself differently. All I can say is try it. It is more powerful than absurd. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
- Start tuning in to when you blame, judge, become opinionated and criticize. Generally these feelings and thoughts arise when we feel threatened or when we need to feel better about ourselves. The problem with this is how external it is. The question we really need to be asking is why are we seeking this validation, we wouldn’t need it if we felt good about ourselves, in our actions, our thoughts, how we look, we would confidently mind our own business and let other people get on with theirs. In a perfect world, I know! But even a little bit of self – reflection in situations where you feel threatened can go a long way. If you can feel compassion towards others, in the majority of circumstances (even one’s where you are driven completely mad!), if this is your baseline for how you treat people, you will be able to offer yourself the same compassion. This is person is doing the best they can today. I am doing the best I can today. Not only does it feel nicer to be nice, you will notice that people actually just start getting nicer and more beautiful when you believe that you are nice and beautiful on the inside.
“Talk to yourself the way you would talk to someone you love”.
There are some AMAZING resources out there on self-compassion and I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone to take a little self – study crash course on it. But for me, the two women who stand out the most are Brené Brown and Kristen Neff, buy their books, watch the TEDx Talks, do their courses. Life changing stuff!!
Next up in the Life Tools | Series…Yoga for Life
Namasté + Big Love, Alex xx