Do You Understand Self Compassion?
Many of our clients deal with chronic health conditions that leave them feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and disappointed in themselves.
We hear the emotions in their voices during consultations.
They are just so hard on themselves, and feel they should be doing more to “speed up” their process. It’s not coincidence that a community of #lymewarriors exists, or those that identify with #moldillness band together.
Conditions like this can leave you feeling alone and lost. The world out there STILL has lots to learn about the long term effects about both of these experiences.
When you feel alone and lost, you may end up struggling to stay motivated on your journey to better health, and better days. If so, it may be time to turn your attention inward and give yourself a little more love.
This comes in the form of Self-compassion. This powerful tool will help you stay in tune with your feelings, needs and desires, so that you can make meaningful changes in your life. Even if they are small ones.
In this blog post we will share:
- What is Self-Compassion
- Benefits of Self-Compassion
- How to Cultivate Self-Compassion
- Tips for Developing Self-Compassion
- Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Emotions
- Self-Care Practices to Foster Self-Compassion
- Overcoming Self-Defeating Thoughts
- Understanding Your Needs and Desires
- Takeaways and resources
What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is the practice of being kind, understanding, and supportive to yourself. It involves recognizing our shared humanity, connecting with our feelings of vulnerability, and embracing our imperfections. It is not about being selfish or indulging in self-pity. Instead, it is about being mindful of our suffering, offering ourselves kindness and understanding, and treating ourselves with the same care and respect we would offer a close friend.
Kristin Neff, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology Dept., University of Texas at Austin, is considered a leading expert on Self Compassion, and has developed the Self Compassion Scale.
At its core, self-compassion is about recognizing our pain and sitting with it, rather than avoiding it. It is the practice of being gentle and understanding with ourselves, even in difficult times. It is a way to stay connected to our innermost feelings and needs, so that we can take the necessary steps to improve our well-being.
The Importance of Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is a critical component of our overall well-being. Research has shown that self-compassion is associated with greater psychological health, resilience, and life satisfaction. Self-compassion has also been linked to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
If you deal with chronic illness, your mental health, and your stress resilience might be suffering.
It is important to note that self-compassion is not the same as self-esteem.
While self-esteem is focused on how we perceive ourselves, self-compassion is focused on how we treat ourselves. Self-esteem is about feeling good about ourselves, while self-compassion is about treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and acceptance.
The ability to be compassionate with ourselves is essential for our well-being. Without self-compassion, it can be difficult to stay motivated and make meaningful changes in our lives.
Benefits of Self-Compassion
Practicing self-compassion has a number of benefits, including:
- Increased self-awareness: Self-compassion helps us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, so that we can make informed decisions.
- Improved mental health: Self-compassion has been linked to greater psychological health, resilience, and life satisfaction.
- Reduced stress: Self-compassion has been shown to reduce stress levels, which can have a positive impact on our overall health.
- Increased motivation: Self-compassion can help us stay motivated and take action on our goals.
- Improved relationships: Self-compassion can help us nurture our relationships with others, as we are more likely to treat others with respect and understanding.
How to Cultivate Self-Compassion
Cultivating self-compassion can be a challenge, especially if we have been hard on ourselves for a long time. However, with consistent practice, it is possible to cultivate self-compassion. Here are some tips for developing self-compassion:
- Acknowledge your feelings: It is important to recognize your feelings and give yourself space to simply be with them.
- Speak kindly to yourself: Rather than criticizing yourself, practice speaking kindly and understanding to yourself. Get to know your inner critic.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, so that we can treat ourselves with kindness and understanding.
- Be gentle with yourself: Instead of expecting perfection, practice being gentle and forgiving with yourself.
- Reach out for help: If needed, reach out to a trusted friend or professional for support.
Tips for Developing Self-Compassion
Self-compassion can be developed over time with consistent practice. Here are some tips for developing self-compassion:
- Learn to recognize your self-critical thoughts: Noticing your self-critical thoughts can be the first step to replacing them with more compassionate ones.
- Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk: Instead of speaking harshly to yourself, practice speaking to yourself in a kind and supportive manner. Check the end of this post for some resources!
- Take time for yourself: Taking time for yourself can help you reconnect with your needs and desires, so you can make meaningful changes in your life. This can be a hard step for many. Start small, even with five minutes of breathing.
- Practice gratitude: Practicing gratitude can help us focus on the things we appreciate in our lives, rather than what is lacking.
- Be realistic in your expectations: It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself, rather than expecting perfection.
Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Emotions
We all experience difficult emotions from time to time. Learning how to cope with these emotions in a healthy way is an important part of self-compassion. Here are some strategies for dealing with difficult emotions:
- Acknowledge your feelings: It is important to acknowledge and accept your feelings, rather than trying to push them away.
- Allow yourself to feel: It is okay to feel your feelings, even if they are uncomfortable.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help us become aware of our thoughts and feelings, so that we can respond to them in a compassionate way.
- Reach out for support: If needed, reach out to a trusted friend or professional for support.
Self-Care Practices to Foster Self-Compassion
Self-care is an important part of cultivating self-compassion.
We hesitate on using this term, as it has become a buzzword in the wellness space. Self care really is carving out space for YOU.
Whatever that looks like! Remember, start small. Taking care of yourself, when you are not used to it, takes time to make part of a small daily habit.
Nurturing yourself with self-care practices can help you stay connected to your needs and desires, so that you can make meaningful changes in your life. Here are some self-care practices to foster self-compassion:
- Exercise or Movement: Exercise can help us release stress, boost our mood, and stay connected to our bodies. It helps with lymph flow, mental well being and your cardiovascular system.
- Eat nourishing foods: Eating nutrient-dense foods can help us feel energized and better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
- Get enough sleep: Getting adequate rest can help us stay energized and better cope with difficult emotions.
- Spend time with friends: Spending time with friends can help us feel supported and connected, even in difficult times. Social connections are a pillar of health!
- Focus on desires: Taking time for yourself can help you reconnect with your needs and desires, so that you can make meaningful changes in your life.
Overcoming Self-Defeating Thoughts
Self-defeating thoughts can make it difficult to practice self-compassion. It is important to be aware of these thoughts, and to recognize them as unhelpful and untrue. Here are some strategies for overcoming self-defeating thoughts:
- Acknowledge the thought: It is important to recognize the thought as unhelpful and untrue, rather than trying to push it away.
- Challenge the thought: Challenge the thought by asking yourself questions such as “What evidence do I have to support this thought?”
- Replace the thought with a more helpful one: Instead of focusing on the negative, practice focusing on the positive.
- Speak kindly to yourself: Rather than criticizing yourself, practice speaking kindly and understanding to yourself.
Understanding Your Needs and Desires
Self-compassion is about understanding your needs and desires, so that you can make meaningful changes in your life. To practice self-compassion, it is important to be mindful of your needs and to honor them. Here are some tips for understanding your needs and desires:
- Identify your needs: Taking the time to identify your needs can help you stay connected to your deepest desires and motivation. Identifying your needs, when it comes to your health, and chronic issues, helps you create boundaries for yourself. This might be how you get that much needed rest for recovery.
- Should you make a plan?: Making a plan for how you will meet your needs can help you stay focused and motivated. However, being in the midst of feeling unwell for a length of time may seem overwhelming. Instead of feeling like you need a plan, ask yourself what is my next step? Perhaps today it is rest, and tomorrow it is seeking support.
- Set achievable goals: Setting achievable goals can help you stay on track and make meaningful changes in your life. It can make making changes simple.
- Celebrate your successes: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, to stay motivated and inspired on your journey. This is important from a neuroscience perspective.
Self-compassion is a powerful tool to help us stay connected to our needs and desires, so that we can make meaningful changes in our lives. It involves recognizing our shared humanity, connecting with our feelings of vulnerability, and embracing our imperfections. With consistent practice, it is possible to cultivate self-compassion and unlock our inner strength. Why not try a 30 minute consultation today to start your journey to self-compassion and better health?
Self-compassion isn’t about being selfish or indulging in self-pity. It’s about being mindful of our suffering and treating ourselves with care and respect. With self-compassion, we can stay motivated and make meaningful changes in our lives.
Our Practitioner Tanya has a resource on her blog for challenging that inner critic.
Our Practitioner Amanda has a podcast episode to support you here.
An Awareness Scan can help shed light on emotional patterns you can’t identify, and help you shift them.
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