Self-compassion is a way of treating yourself with kindness and acceptance, similar to the way you would act towards a friend. It means showing yourself forgiveness and understanding when you are having a hard time or when you make mistakes, rather than beating yourself up. Having self-compassion means knowing that you are worthy exactly as you are. People who practice self-compassion have a higher self-esteem, are more self-confident and tend to feel less negative emotions like anxiety, depression and shame. Here are five ways that you can practice self-compassion in your life:
1. Treat Yourself Like You Would Treat a Friend
Many of us say things to ourselves we would never dream of saying to another person. The next time you catch yourself struggling with negative thoughts, ask yourself what you would say to a friend in the same situation. This is a very powerful tool for transforming your thoughts into something more positive and uplifting.
2. Challenge Your Inner Critic
When you notice critical thoughts, take a moment to recognize you are thinking negatively of yourself. Then, challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself: are these things really true? Is there evidence to support what I am thinking? Recognizing and challenging your inner critic is the first step to thinking positively about yourself.
3. Self-Compassion Break
The self-compassion break is an exercise introduced by self-compassion expert Kristin Neff and it is great to do anytime. This is a simple activity you can practice anywhere. There are three parts to this exercise. First, identify what you are feeling. Next, acknowledge you are not alone and that everyone deals with negative emotions at some point. Finally, place your hand over your heart and say “may I be kind to myself.” If you are facing a difficult situation, this exercise helps you slow down and feel grounded.
4. Do The Things You Love
What makes you feel good? Do you enjoy listening to music, writing, creating art, reading or learning new skills? Whatever it is, make time in your life to do it. Dedicating time to doing the activities you love will help you feel more in touch with yourself and will increase your overall feelings of joy.
5. Learn How To Forgive Yourself
We spend so much time thinking about times we’ve messed up. When you beat yourself up over a mistake, you end up feeling guilty, ashamed and mentally drained. It is always best to forgive yourself, let go of the past and continue to move forward.
Keep in mind that these things are difficult, and that’s okay. We are used to thinking about ourselves in a negative way and changing that narrative takes time and effort. The beauty of self-compassion is that it is a skill. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, and with practice it will start to feel more natural. All you have to do is decide to put your well-being first by making self-compassion part of your life.
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