Practicing Self-Compassion

“Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you’re good enough, self-compassion asks, what’s good for you?”

-Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Have you noticed that it’s sometimes easier to speak kindly to your neighbor than it is to speak kindly to yourself? We are often our own biggest critic, which can lead us to speak to ourselves in an unhelpful manner and cause us to feel stuck and discouraged. Our inner critical voice can feel very loud at times and may hold us back from living our fullest life.

Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher of self-compassion, encourages us to accept that as humans, we are flawed and will make mistakes but we can choose to treat ourselves and others with kindness and understanding. Recognizing our humanity allows us to be more forgiving of ourselves and work through our struggles rather than letting them consume us.

When I discuss self-compassion with my clients, I encourage my clients to simply notice their inner critic and then choose to think differently by engaging in positive self-talk.

Trying to ignore the critical voice is often an unhelpful strategy because while it may quiet the inner critic in the short-term, it will usually come creeping back into our mind. By simply noticing our inner critic and then choosing to speak kindly to ourselves and live in our strengths rather than our flaws, we are able to move forward.

 Just as you may ask a friend how you can care for them during troubled times, self-compassion entails asking yourself how you can care for yourself while also validating your experiences rather than ignoring or denying them. It is inevitable that we will experience failures and setbacks in life, but we do have the ability to choose how we react to these situations.

 Practicing self-compassion can look like…

  • Acknowledging your strengths – Name your strengths and reflect on examples of how you have demonstrated those strengths
  • Celebrating victories – Take time to celebrate your wins, no matter how big or small
  • Practicing gratitude – Name three things you are thankful for each day 
  • Naming your positive traits – Write about or say aloud the things you like about yourself 

Next time you notice your inner critic, try to practice self-compassion and then take time to reflect on how it makes you feel!

Written by: Mary Anne Sylvester