By Veronica Vidal
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” – Jack Kornfield
Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than punishing ourselves with self-criticism (Neff, 2003a). We cannot always achieve exactly what we want. When this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism.
Self-compassionate individuals are those who recognize that imperfection and failure are inevitable, and thus tend to be more gentle with themselves when confronted with distressing or unpleasant experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of self-imposed ideals (Neff, 2015).
With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. This allows us to hold ourselves in love and connection, giving ourselves the support and comfort needed to bear the pain, while providing the optimal conditions for growth and transformation.
5 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion
1: Practice Forgiveness ~ Stop punishing yourself for your mistakes. Accept that you are not perfect and be gentle with yourself when you are confronted with your shortcomings. There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past. Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go.
2: Employ a Growth Mindset ~ Self-compassionate individuals understand that there is potential for learning and growth in every mistake they make (Neff, 2003). Do you view challenges as impossible obstacles or as opportunities to grow? Employ a growth mindset, and embrace rather than avoid challenges, persist in finding meaning in them, and don’t give up on yourself.
3: Express Gratitude ~ Feeling gratitude is very powerful (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Rather than wishing for what we do not have, there is strength in appreciating what we do have, right now. You can choose to write a gratitude journal. By focusing on our blessings we employ a gentler inner voice and move the focus away from our shortcomings and outward to the world, with all its beauty.
4: Be Mindful ~ Mindfulness has been found to have a positive impact on self-compassion, as it has a tendency to lessen self-judgment (Kabat-Zinn, 2014). Strive to always be in the moment and to be aware of what is happening right now, without judgment and labeling. Allow what you think or feel to have its moment. Don’t give it the microphone or hide it in the corner. Allow it to come, and then, without attachment, let it go.
5: Make Peace with Your Inner Critic ~ Self-criticism is a common problem, and not one to be overlooked. The way you talk to yourself plays a vital role in well-being. Luckily, the problem of the harsh self-critic is fixable. So, next time you do not rise to the expectations you have for yourself, take a moment to pause and reassess.
Be mindful of the difficult emotions that arise. Forgive yourself and recognize that you are only human. See if you can identify how to do it differently next time. Be grateful for the opportunity you had in the first place and for your persistence to try again.
Finally, accept yourself. You are not perfect. And yes, you likely could have done better. But chances are, you did just fine. And often, that’s more than enough.
Continue to stay safe, strong, and serene as we transition to our new normal.
Your loving support, referrals, and loyalty fill me with immense gratitude.
With Infinite Love