Practicing Self Compassion

Self-compassion does not mean that you have to ignore the pain or stop yourself from feeling emotions such as being sad, frustrated, or angry. Rather, being self-compassionate is about acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, and experiencing unpleasant difficulties is sometime inevitable. However, rather than criticising yourself or ruminating about your mistakes, self-compassionate is about allowing yourself to be kind, understanding, and forgiving of yourself. Learning how to be self-compassionate can take some time and practice, but it is a skill worth having and can be practiced using mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness.

  • Mindfulness can help you feel more aware of how you feel and may have occurred due to your thoughts or unpleasant circumstances. As you identify those emotions and how you felt, try to be accepting and validating of those experiences. For instance, "I was angry because my mum told me I had to clean my room even though I had just gotten home from work and was tired. I got angry, upset, said some things I didn't mean, and then felt guilty afterwards".
  • Common Humanity is about connecting your experience to the grander human experience. For instance, this can be acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes or sometimes everyone overreacts or acts irrationally. Sometimes, it can also be helpful thinking of the various causes to why you may have reacted or felt the way you did. For instance, "My anger was further exacerbated by the fact that I was already feeling stressed about work, and that is why I overreacted. If I had been feeling calm, I would have acted differently".
  • Self-Kindness is about being reassuring and kind to yourself. Often, it can be helpful to think about how you would speak to a friend if they were in the same situation you were in. For instance, "it's okay, you made a mistake. I understand how stressed you were and had reached breaking point. Everyone makes mistakes and it's just something to learn and grow from. Next week, maybe you can prioritise tasks more and take some time to do something you enjoy, to stop the stress from building up.

Try and keep a self-compassion journal for a week. In your self-compassion journal, record anything that you felt was difficult, or made your feel negative or judgmental about yourself. For instance, I felt angry when the driver cut me off in traffic. Later, when I met up with my friend I was still so angry that I acted moody". With each situation, try using mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness to process the situation in way that will help you be more compassionate towards yourself.

(Image by Sandrachile from Unsplash)

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