How to Practise Self-Compassion

Have you ever felt angry with yourself, or accused yourself of doing something you regret? Perhaps after being harsh with someone, you were even harder on yourself? 

The truth is your harshest critic is often yourself. That critical voice in your brain can constantly point out your mistakes and transgressions. While it's important to recognize and correct errors, constantly criticizing yourself can be draining. 

But what if there was a better option?

Self-compassion is frequently an entirely novel approach to interacting with oneself. According to research, the more we practice loving and forgiving ourselves—whether through simple exercises for self-compassion like the Self-Compassion Break or more structured meditation techniques like affectionate breathing—the more we'll develop the habit of self-compassion.

You must engage in exercises for self-compassion to manage stress and pain. Continue reading to discover how to practice self-compassion. 


What does self-compassion mean?

Self-compassion is known as the ability to be kind to oneself. It is a notion that can be objectively measured. Associate Professor Dr. Kristin Neff operationalized it and brought it to the literature on positive psychology. It consists of three distinct constructs: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Self-compassion entails being aware of shame, annoyance, and disappointment. It is embracing our weaknesses and forgiving ourselves for our failings. Also, it is choosing to show kindness to oneself even when we think we don't deserve it.

Some individuals discover that their suffering initially worsens when they engage in self-compassion practices. We refer to this phenomenon as backdraft, a phrase used in firefighting to describe what occurs when a door in a burning house is opened: oxygen enters, and flames rush out. When we open the door to our hearts, a similar process might take place: love pours in, and past hurts come out.

Exercises for self-compassion have been scientifically proven to: 

  • Help you handle unpleasant situations, disagreements, and perceived failure healthily; lessen the symptoms of stress, despair, and anxiety.
  • Provide you with a means of self-soothing, enabling you to handle interpersonal problems better and enhancing psychological well-being


The Three Elements of Self-Compassion

To learn how to practice self-compassion, you must understand Dr Kristin Neff’s three components of self-compassion which are:

  • Self-kindness 
  • Common humanity 
  • Mindfulness 


  • Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgment

Self-criticism is a defence mechanism we use when we experience pain, failure, or inadequacy. It makes us more anxious and frustrated. Conversely, self-kindness realizes that making mistakes and having setbacks are unavoidable. Self-love and acceptance are essential. Wishing you luck and understanding that, despite everything, you deserve acceptance. Realistically, accepting that you often can't get all you desire can spare you the pain of self-criticism.


  • Common Humanity vs. Isolation

Nobody is flawless. The secret to practicing self-compassion is realizing that being human entails being frail and flawed. It enables you to acknowledge pain and flaws as aspects of the shared human experience. Recognize that all beings endure adversity. Expand your consciousness to all beings. Focusing on our shared ability to feel sorrow and love, combine your compassion for yourself with the compassion that will inevitably arise for others.


  • Mindfulness vs. Over-identification

Emotions shouldn't be repressed or overemphasized. You must balance your negative emotions when self-compassion, so they do not consume you. In a receptive mental state known as mindfulness, you may witness unfavourable emotions as they are and let them go without giving them any further thought. Use your breath to become conscious of what's happening inside, without passing judgment, to cultivate mindfulness. 


How to Practice Self-Compassion 

Just because you are kind to yourself, does not mean everything will automatically become better. Even though self-compassion is intended to lessen suffering, it shouldn’t be used to numb our emotions. Here are some examples of self-compassion to consider: 


  • Treat Yourself as You’d Treat a Friend

Remember to be kind to yourself while going through a difficult moment, as you are to others. Recognize that mistakes are inevitable since we are all fallible. Be kind and tolerant of yourself, even if you feel unworthy. But while we can't always take away others' sorrow, we can recognize its existence and give support to help them get through it and grow. Let yourself make errors, and when you do, be gentle to yourself.


  • Becoming More Self-Aware

Being self-aware does not entail being judgmental or critical of oneself. It entails recognizing your negative self-talk and changing it. Every time you notice yourself having a negative thought, practice being objective and non-judgmental. Examine the foundation for such ideas and replace them with logical and uplifting ones. It is a good idea to start by releasing phrases like "It's acceptable if I feel angry or annoyed." This entails accepting both your strengths and your apparent character flaws.


  • Keep a Self-Compassion Journal

Writing in a journal is a valuable method to express both happy and sad feelings. Every evening, set aside some time to reflect on the day. Include any shortcomings you felt awful about, errors you believed you made, or difficult situations that hurt. Self-compassionately process the events with mindfulness and kindness. It becomes simpler to practice self-compassion when you keep a regular self-compassion notebook. Use the following three pillars of self-compassion to reflect on your day while journaling.


  • Change Your Mindset

Tell yourself that you are experiencing life like everyone else. To err is human. Change your attention from yourself to the larger picture of which you are a part. Give up the need for outside approval. Hence, refusing to link our satisfaction to other factors can be a self-kind act with a far wider ripple effect. Discuss your issue with others. You'll understand that you're not the only one suffering when chatting with folks close to you. It's crucial to assure oneself that you are a member of a larger community. It also helps to see your issues in the context of the broader picture.


The Bottom Line

It is important to be empathetic towards oneself, as it helps to develop positive traits. Contrary to common belief, loving yourself is not selfish. Practising self-care involves facing unpleasant thoughts, interacting with others, and engaging in activities you enjoy. If you struggle with self-compassion, online counselling can be helpful.

You can be creative with your ideas and strategies to take care of yourself. Consider starting a blog, creating flashcards, or finding unique ways to remind yourself to treat yourself kindly. There are no limits to what you can come up with.

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