Three Steps to Foster Self Compassion
Updated: Jun 4
Self-compassion consists of providing understanding and kindness towards yourself. This comes in incredibly handy when you're having a hard time, made a mistake, or notice something about yourself that you dislike. Self-compassion is a skill, one that takes a lot of practice to have. It's not one that can be perfected, because the idea of perfection, doesn't really overlap with self-compassion too well. Perhaps because the act of having self-compassion means that you honour and accept your humanness, and humans are imperfect, and that's okay. The more you allow yourself to accept the reality of being imperfect the more you'll be able to feel compassion for yourself and for those around you. A good chunk of therapy (depending on the approach and your therapist) is to build and strengthen the ability to be self-compassionate. This isn't because us therapists are mushy/cheesy people...it's a part of it...but mostly it's because research has shown the importance of self-compassion on our overall well-being. So with that in mind, the following are three steps to practice self-compassion. Remember the goal is not to perfect them, but simply to incorporate them into your day-to-day in the way that you can. The more you incorporate them, the more natural it'll be for your body and nervous system, and then the more you'll be able to sit with it.
First: Simply observe and notice your experience. You might do this by saying "this is a hard moment" or "I am feeling really embarrassed." By taking a moment to observe and notice your experience, it provides you with a chance to step back and not get caught in the spiral of its intensity. Rather than the experience becoming an identity, "my life is hard" or "I'm so embarrassing" it simply becomes a momentary perceived fact that will always pass.
Next: Connect your experience to humanity and life. Our emotion's are our body's way of sending us a message and letting us know what we need. When we've taking a moment to observe and check in on those emotions, we allow them to be heard and validated. With that, you can then remind yourself that you're not alone in your experience. Other's have embarrassed themselves before, and others have had bad days and acted imperfectly. "I am imperfect and I am human, just like everyone else."
Lastly: Direct some kindness towards yourself. We often create kind filters when speaking to/about others in our lives. We give them the benefit of the doubt, we comfort them, we reassure them that they're not embarrassing or that their experiences are normal. That perfect is unattainable and they're perfect the way they are. We seem to forget to apply this filter to ourself. So adopt the same gentle tone you'd give to your loved ones. Somewhere inside of you, your inner child exists and we would never speak to them the way we speak to ourselves today. So ask yourself "what would I say to the younger version of me" and relay it to yourself today.