How do you treat yourself?
How do you speak to yourself?
My guess is probably not very well.
In fact, would you ever treat a friend in the same way?
For many of us, the answer is no. The reality is that we often treat ourselves much more harshly than we would ever treat anyone else.
Self-compassion is probably one of the tools I work with most and hands-down can have the biggest effect on people – present company included. It took me a long time to even be able to use the words. It was such a foreign concept that for a long time, my response was:
What do you mean be kind to yourself?
Self-compassion – what is it really?
Self-compassion relates to our ability to be accepting, kind and loving to ourselves, welcoming and befriending our emotional and physical suffering.
Or simply said:
It’s being kind to yourself
And while it’s often a foreign concept, we actually know what to do.
What do you do for yourself?
Let me take a guess.
If you’re faced with some challenging feelings, you might tell yourself “to just get over it”. You tell yourself you’re weak or that you shouldn’t be feeling what you’re feeling. Actually, you might add another layer on top of judgement and make yourself feel stupid for feeling what you’re feeling.
Something like that? Tell me, how’s that working for you?
Thought so. It works – to a degree. But it’s not sustainable and frankly, it feels crap.
So why do we do this?
We’ve often been raised to believe that being tough will allow us to achieve our goals – moreover, there is a strong cultural narrative that being kind to ourselves is a form of self-pity, weakness or that it’s selfish.
In fact, none of these things are true and in fact, it has been proven that self-compassion actually leads to greater agency and responsibility, increased resiliency and is a far stronger motivator than self-judgement and punishment. And honestly, it just feels so much better.
How do you start being kinder to yourself?
Start with becoming aware of how you treat and speak to yourself. So often, we live our lives on autopilot and aren’t even aware of the relationship we have with ourselves:
- What do you typically judge and criticize yourself for?
- How do you speak to yourself? What type of language do you use?
- How do you feel when you are critical or harsh on yourself? How does it change your behaviour?
There are various ways to be kinder to yourself, and one of the easiest shortcuts is to answer this question when you notice that you are suffering:
How would I treat a good friend?
You take time out for them. You listen. You empathize. You say something caring or comforting. There might even be a hug thrown in somewhere (guaranteed with me, so if you’re need – come on over!).
Give it a try and see how this changes things for you. In the beginning this can feel a little awkward, especially as you might not be used to it, but as with anything, with practice you can improve. And be compassionate even in the practice of self-compassion!