It's about being able to see what action is good for one's own well-being in the long run.
Self-Compassion Is Not Self-Indulgence, Self-Pity, Or Self-Esteem
You have been hearing a lot about self-care and self-love this month. I think we all understand these ideas but sometimes we don’t always know how to implement them. Self-compassion is a tangible skill that I want to give you to help you know how you can take care of yourself and better love yourself through the ups and downs of life.
Self-compassion consists of three components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. I will go into each of these skills a little deeper later in this post. You know what the coolest part about self-compassion is? These 3 components of self-compassion are shown to reduce stress by enhancing the self-regulation of uncomfortable emotions that can result from doubts, failures, and unexpected events. I think that is so cool! That by mastering these three skills we can better control how we respond to our doubts, failures and the trials that life brings. And in turn reduce our stress because we are better able to cope with life’s challenges. Whose ready to learn more about self-compassion?
Self-Kindness Is Responding To Perceived Failure, Pain, Inadequacy, Or Disappointment With Understanding, Acceptance, And Patience Towards The Self, Rather Than With Harsh Self-Criticism.
Self-kindness is the first component of self-compassion. This is a hard skill for many of us. I just want to remind you what being kind to yourself really means. To be kind to yourself doesn’t mean you have to be positive all the time.
Being kind to yourself is:
▪️Being honest with yourself
▪️Telling yourself to keep going when you make a mistake or fail
▪️Talking to yourself like you would a friend
▪️Allowing yourself to feel your emotions
▪️Learning from your mistakes and failures
▪️Accepting the truth about situations
▪️Looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself things you actually believe
I want to touch on that last point. Affirmations are a big thing right now. There is research that goes both ways on affirmation. The research that goes against it says that if you tell yourself something you don’t believe your subconscious will remind you all the reasons you are not what you said and it can make you feel worse about yourself. So don’t lie to yourself in the mirror. When starting out I need you to choose things you actually believe about yourself. I can easily say I like my hair and I’m a good friend because I believe these things about myself. I can’t easily say that I love the look of my legs but I can say I love how strong my legs are.
The more you notice the things you like, more things will come along that you find you like. I might not like the look of my legs yet but the belief can change as I start seeing all the other things I do like about my body and the person that I am. And that belief might not change but now I’m not so focused on it anymore because I am focusing on what I do like about myself. What is a characteristic or trait you truly like and believe about yourself?
Common Humanity Is Recognizing That All Of Our Experiences Both Good And Bad Are Part Of The Human Experience And That All People Are Imperfect, Make Mistakes, And Experience Failure.
Common Humanity is the second component of self-compassion. The best part of common humanity is that it helps you realize that you are not alone. As a human being you have a shared community with all other human beings. We all experience the range of emotions, we are all vulnerable, and none of us are perfect. Sometimes we feel isolated in our suffering because we feel like no one else can understand what we are going through, but I am here to tell you that you are not alone.
Dr. Kristin Neff, an expert of self-compassion, explains how others can understand saying, “This is what distinguishes self-compassion from self-pity. While self-pity says “poor me,” self-compassion recognizes suffering is part of the shared human experience. The pain I feel in difficult times is the same pain that you feel in difficult times. The triggers are different, the circumstances are different, the degree of pain is different, but the basic experience is the same.” If you realize you are not alone, it can help you feel less isolated and be more understanding and less judgmental of yourself and your life experiences.
Mindfulness Is Not Overidentifying With The Uncomfortable Feelings That Arise After Failure Or During Struggles, But Maintaining A Sense Of Balanced Awareness Of The Feelings.
What does over-identifying mean? This is when we attach more meaning and weight to our emotions or thoughts than is necessary. An example of this is, “I’m sad, therefore I’m weak.” Another example is, “I am angry, which means I’m out of control.” Or many of us attach being a good or bad person to the thoughts and emotions we have. These are all over-identifications. Being sad does not make you weak. Sadness is just an emotion, nothing more.
A skill that can help us from overidentifying with our emotions is to stop labeling our emotions as good or bad. Sadness, anger, happiness etc. are not good or bad. An emotion is just that, an emotion. As a human being you are allowed to feel all of the emotions and should expect to experience all of them.
Self-Compassion Versus Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is your confidence in your ability to do something. Much of this confidence comes from external factors such as winning and succeeding. If you lose or fail then you feel less confident in your ability and your self-esteem lowers. It is not helpful to base your worth and confidence in your abilities on something as fragile as self-esteem. You need to base those things on something more concrete, more internal.
Self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations, judgments, and comparisons to determine your worth or capabilities. It is consistent through ever-changing life circumstances such as a drop in motivation, fatigue, failure, a big win, injury, or physical pain. Self-compassion is positively related to intrinsic motivation. For example, exercising because it’s something to do for your body not “I am going to do this to get that”.
Research has proven self-compassion to be more consistent through ever-changing life circumstances because it is not dependent on an outcome. Being self-compassionate in the face of failure or making mistakes will help you learn from and rectify your mistakes even better than self-criticism would and it has the added benefit of avoiding the negative damage resulting from self-criticism. Do you need to be perfectionists and self-critical in order to develop and learn from your mistakes? The answer is NO.
The Misconception Of Self-Compassion
There is a misconception that self-compassion means being nice to yourself and allowing yourself to eat the pizza and stay in bed all day. This actually is the opposite of self-compassion. Self-compassion is about valuing one’s health and well-being.
▪️Drinking more water
▪️Resting on rest days
▪️Moving your body
It’s growth. It’s doing things to help you grow intellectually, spiritually, and physically. It’s choosing the thing that will be best for you and your body in the long run. Because of the way self-care has been portrayed, many don’t think they have to do hard things. The hard things are what are best for us in the long run though and having self-compassion can help you do the hard thing.