Do you tend to beat yourself up when you make a mistake or feel a certain way? Or when life isn’t going as planned? If so, chances are you will benefit if you learn to have a steady stream of self-compassion in your life.
We live in a world that could use a lot more compassion – for others and for ourselves. After all, many people are running the same story underneath the obvious stories: “I am not good enough”.
However, before we can offer more compassion externally or internally, we must come to know just what compassion means. We must understand to a greater degree how embracing and embodying such a trait can foster healing, wholeness, and a lot more joy individually and collectively.
Compassion is essentially feeling empathy as a result of observing pain in another person. Empathy is understanding how another person feels. For example, if you find out that your friend has suffered a tragedy, you may feel some of their suffering. This is empathy, and because of this, you extend compassion, reaching out to listen or offering support of some kind.
Self-compassion is simply empathy and kindness that you extend to yourself. It’s so easy to be harsh on ourselves, judging and beating ourselves up when we make mistakes, don’t look a certain way, don’t fit the status quo, and so on. In fact, it’s oftentimes easier to lavish compassion on others rather than ourselves. We’ll spend an hour encouraging a neighbor who has just lost their job, but spend an hour letting negative thoughts about our worth ransack our minds if we lose a job.
But being skimpy on self-compassion is old news. Today, there’s plenty of research backing up the claims that consistent self-compassion is the way to a better life all the way around.
Good news is that it’s not as hard as you may think to cultivate huge doses of self-compassion. There are tips, tricks, tools, and strategies. The biggest key is giving yourself permission! As you learn how to increase self-compassion, no doubt your levels of peace and happiness will increase.
Sure, the reality is that life won’t always go as planned; it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter unexpected situations, make mistakes, and experience pain. However, you can learn how to best get through such times using more – not less self-compassion.
The following are a few tips on cultivating a healthy amount of self-compassion:
Be kind to yourself, giving yourself permission to be gentle with yourself no matter what’s going on in life. If you’re having a tough day, try not to beat yourself up. If you’re experiencing something painful, nurture yourself and extend understanding and kindness to you. From time to time, negative emotions will come our way, but we don’t have to allow them to consume us. We don’t have to allow them to continue to keep us sad, anxious, or frustrated. Offer yourself kindness every day, because you are worthy of such positive treatment.
Learning how to be mindful is a great way to have self-compassion. Mindfulness is simply being aware of your present moments as they occur. It’s observing your emotions as they arise, as they are, while not necessarily judging them. For example, if you find yourself feeling anxious in the moment, you observe the feelings, but you don’t allow the feeling to overtake you. And, you don’t beat yourself up for feeling them. You can observe them, feel them, and then do your best at letting them go by focusing on your breath, moment by moment.
Nurturing yourself and spending time doing what makes you happy is extending compassion to yourself. Each day, do at least one thing you really enjoy. It might be taking a walk, calling a friend, working on an art project, reading a good book, and so on. Regardless of what’s going on in your life, take time each day to enjoy some fun and magic moments.
Embrace these tips and commit to a life of humongous self-compassion for yourself. You might just find that the more compassionate you are toward yourself, the more compassionate you are toward others – and this can certainly make the world a happier place.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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