How to Have More Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is essential for everyone, but it's particularly important as we get older. Here are tips on how to practice healthy self-compassion.
Self compassion feature

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and understanding that you would offer to a good friend. It involves recognizing that suffering, imperfection, and failure are part of the human experience and that responding to these experiences in a non-judgmental, kind, and supportive way is possible. In this article, we will walk through everything you need to know about integrating self-compassion into your life. 

Why Is Self-Compassion Important?

black woman with hands in heart, expressing love and health concept, outdoor

Self-compassion has been shown to be associated with a variety of positive outcomes, such as increased emotional well-being, improved relationships, and greater resilience in the face of stress and adversity. Additionally, self-compassion can serve as a buffer against the adverse effects of self-criticism and negative self-evaluation, which can lead to a range of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Overall, self-compassion is an essential aspect of overall mental and emotional well-being.

Practice Mindfulness

Being mindful means paying attention to the present moment without judgment. By being mindful, you can become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can help you respond to challenging situations with greater compassion for yourself.

Mindfulness has a whole host of benefits in addition to developing your ability for self-compassion. Mindfulness practices have been linked to improvements in physical health, mental health, and well-being.

Reframe Negative Thoughts

When you have negative thoughts about yourself, try to reframe them in a more compassionate way. For example, instead of telling yourself that you’re a failure, remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s okay to be imperfect.

Just like with mindfulness, there are many benefits associated with positive thinking and putting a stop to negative thoughts. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who engage in positive thinking suffer from less depression, have longer lifespans, and even have a greater resistance to developing illnesses. 

Practice Self-Care

Woman in yoga pose

Taking care of yourself is an important aspect of self-compassion. This can include eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. 

Beware of consumeristic practices of “self-care.” Numerous studies have shown that materialistic people are less happy than those who are less materialistic. Many people have come to think of self-care as buying candles, beauty products, or other consumer goods. However, consuming these materialistic goods is unlikely to have any positive effect. 

If someone tells you to spend money for self-care, you might want to question where that messaging is coming from. Many promoters of this type of thinking are tied to advertising the products they are consuming. Think about influencers who promote a type of bubble bath because it does wonders for their stress relief. It could be that their multi-thousand dollar brand deal with the bubble bath company does more for their “stress relief” than the product itself. 

Be Kind To Yourself

Treat yourself with the same kindness that you would offer to a good friend. Give yourself encouragement and positive reinforcement, just as you would for someone else. 

If you aren’t sure whether your self-talk is out of line, consider this: would you talk the same way to a beloved friend, your daughter, or your mom? If you wouldn’t, then you shouldn’t speak that way to yourself.

Speak To Yourself Like A Friend

woman looking in the mirror self-compassion.

When you’re going through a difficult time, try speaking to yourself as you would to a friend. Imagine what you would say to a friend who was struggling; consider what you would say, and then think how that’s different than how you would talk to yourself.

When you give yourself advice through this lens, you are much more likely to come up with a useful solution and a solution that you’ve presented in a much more kind and gentle manner. Often we give ourselves advice we would never think to give to a friend, like “just try harder,” “ignore the abuse,” or “if you weren’t so stupid, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

Self-compassionate self-talk is a way to talk to yourself that is kind, understanding, and non-judgmental. Instead of criticizing or berating yourself, try to be understanding and supportive of your feelings and experiences.

Seek Support

If you’re having a hard time being self-compassionate, don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Talking through your feelings with someone you trust can help you develop a more compassionate perspective.

Reflect On Your Common Humanity

Recognize that suffering, imperfection, and failure are part of the human experience. Remind yourself that you are not alone in your struggles and that everyone goes through difficult times.

The Bottom Line

Self-compassion is an ongoing practice that takes time and effort to develop. But by being mindful, reframing negative thoughts, practicing self-care, being kind to yourself, speaking to yourself as you would a friend, practicing self-compassionate self-talk, seeking support, and reflecting on your common humanity, you can develop greater self-compassion and practice being kinder to the most important person in your life: you

Read More:

Self-Confidence Could Be Your Super Power

Ease Career Transitions with These Self Care Practices

What (Really) Goes into Life Over 50 That Works: Setting Boundaries IS Self-Care

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