Incorporating Self-Compassion Into Your Life

self-compassion, care

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day.
A string of such moments can change the course of your life.

Christopher Germer

Why is it we say things to ourselves that we would never say to even our worst enemy? Harsh self-criticism seems to be the norm. But is it really helpful?

Instead try Incorporating self-compassion next time you think you’ve messed up.

Self-compassion is the act of speaking to yourself the same way you would a friend by offering understanding and encouragement. It’s recognizing that if you are human, you are going to make mistakes. It’s recognizing that a gentler approach allows you to learn from your failure and possibly even laugh about them one day. Finally, it is being aware of your feelings around an experience and neither suppressing nor exaggerating them.

Self-compassion is not being lazy or self-indulgent, or self-pitying. In fact in times of laziness or over-indulgence, it involves taking responsibility and toughening up. It doesn’t mean you don’t make personal goals or find purpose for your life.

Instead, you are recognizing your worth and allowing yourself to discover and accept both your strengths and weaknesses. When you accept your personal failures, you are more likely to take necessary steps toward improvement.

Self-compassion is learnable.

Try some of these approaches and find what works best for you.

  • Write yourself a letter of encouragement just as you would to a friend. Read it often.
  • Be aware of critical self-critical talk. Ask yourself if you would say this to a friend.
  • Write down words of affirmation and encouragement. Post them on your mirror at home or the dashboard in your car so these phrases become your mantra. Use these examples to create your own:
    • “Let me be kind to myself in this moment. Let me give myself the compassion I need.”
    • “You are handling this and all will be ok.”
    • “You are showing up and you are enough.”
    • “This is really difficult right now.”
    • “This is a moment of suffering.  Suffering is a part of life.”
    • “You are able and capable.”
  • Find a picture of yourself as a young child and imagine how you would treat this child if you were the parent. How would you nurture, protect, and comfort this child? Don’t forget to offer food, naps, hugs, and even timeouts when necessary.

Ann Sheerin, LPC