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How to Practice Self-Compassion

Many of us are familiar with the topic of self-esteem and how our view of ourselves impacts the way that we interact with the world. One aspect of our self-esteem is the way we treat ourselves. When you make a mistake, are you generally critical or accepting of yourself? When you are having a bad day, do you call yourself harsh names or say words of encouragement? Many of us would say that we react with the former, where harsh self-judgment is usually our go-to when things go wrong. At the same time, many of us would never respond this way to a close friend or loved one - some of us may not even say something that harsh to a stranger! And yet this experience of self-deprecation is so common.


We all know how good it feels to receive love and support during a difficult time, so why not practice compassion for yourself? With the state of the world right now, you might find yourself being especially harsh on yourself for not being as productive as you normally would be. Self-compassion involves responding to your own suffering with kindness just as you would do for someone you care about. There are three different aspects that make up self-compassion:


  • Self-Kindness: the ability to use our inner dialogue to be supportive and understanding toward ourselves. This might look like acknowledging that you are doing the best that you can especially when there are many things you have no control over.


  • Common Humanity: the ability to recognize that everyone has ups and downs in their lives and you are not the only one experiencing hardship or failure. These experiences are all a part of what it means to be human.


  • Mindfulness: the ability to practice intentional awareness in the present moment without judgment. In order to be self-compassionate, we must be able to sit with all of our thoughts and emotions regardless of how “good” or “bad” they are. Acknowledge your experience so that you can work through it rather than try to get over it.


Practicing self-compassion can be a way to manage feelings of anxiety and depression in moments where there is so much that is out of your control. You may also find yourself feeling more motivated and hopeful to do better in future situations rather than being fearful of self-punishment. With so much negativity in the world, the least you could do is be your own ally and support.


For more information, check out this Ted Talk by Kristin Neff: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvtZBUSplr4 or visit her website at www.self-compassion.org. Thank you for reading and take care of yourself YEG!




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