2021 has just started and we have found ourselves in another COVID lockdown. During the first lockdown folks were all about taking advantage of the opportunity by learning a new language, baking bread or discovering new hobbies. The past year has felt like a never-ending rollercoaster ride and people are feeling a bit tired of it all. This is where self-compassion can be helpful. Self-compassion is an excellent tool to add to our coping toolbox.
What is Self- compassion?
Self-compassion is about extending the compassion that we feel for others and applying it to ourselves. It’s about allowing the love, kindness and grace that we show to others during times of failure or suffering to apply to our own.
Kristin Neff described that self-compassion “involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop to tell yourself ‘this is really difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?’”
There are three elements to self-compassion.
1) Invest in self kindness instead of self judgement. This means being imperfect or experiencing failure is inevitable. So instead of judging yourself, approach yourself with kindness.
2) Recognize your common humanity, instead of isolation. This means recognizing that everyone suffers, it is part of the human experience. Instead of telling yourself that you are the only one who makes mistakes, realize that you are not alone in your imperfection.
3) Choose Mindfulness instead of over identification. This means to use mindfulness when dealing with challenging emotions, knowing that the emotion is temporary and will pass rather than getting swept away with the overwhelming experience.
The questions that often come up when learning a new skill are, How can I incorporate it into my life? How can I give myself the gift of self-compassion, when it is second nature to be hard and judgmental about myself?
The best way to incorporate self-compassion is to practice. Here are some easy ways to practice self-compassion.
Talk to yourself like you would to a close friend
Take a self-compassion break
We all know the saying “practice makes perfect”. With self-compassion there is no need to be perfect nor do you have to get it right every time. It is important to take care of yourself and to be gentle with yourself during tough times. Talk to yourself like you would to a good friend. Take care of your feelings the same way you would for someone you love.
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Louise L. Hay.