Being in the pursuit of your most aligned self shouldn’t come at the expense of harsh self-judgment and self-criticism.
Self-compassion is the act of extending warmth, love, and understanding to yourself during a time of adversity or challenge.
It’s realizing our shared humanity, being mindful of what we’re thinking, and actively choosing to be kind and tender to ourselves.
When we practice the art of self-compassion, we also fuel the compassion we feel for others. Oftentimes, when we are overly judgmental and critical of someone else, it’s because we’re also extending criticism and shame onto ourselves. It always comes back to our own self-nurturing.
Dr. Kristin Neff, who is a leading researcher in the realm of self-compassion, categorizes it into three core elements: Self-Kindness, Presence, and Common Humanity.
So, how do we practice this in our daily life? And how do we truly embody it long enough to see it change our perspective?
Being genuinely more kind to ourselves can be a challenge. We are wired to see the flaws, especially by society and some of its standards. Everywhere we turn, we see how we “should” look, “should” live, “should” be. With these heightened feelings of expectation from our external world, it is no surprise that we speak so harshly to ourselves in a world that makes us feel not enough.
Self-kindness starts with the understanding that we are absolutely worthy of the support, acceptance, and warmth that we extend to others. Embracing a path toward self-kindness means to actively choose tenderness toward ourselves during times of challenge.
Beginning to notice your personal dialogue and your automatic responses to life situations, both internally and externally, can create massive shifts toward more self-compassion.
Starting to dive deeper into your own inner world will strengthen this practice. Having a journaling routine that allows expansion can be helpful in order to have internal discoveries.
Or even using a card deck as a reminder can be enough to shift your perspective toward a more loving relationship with yourself. This card deck specifically prompts thinking points around the topic of self-compassion.
When you notice yourself speaking harshly, notice the thought, release it, and send yourself love. Strengthening self-compassion is life-long work. It’s never meant to be about perfection.
Honor how you feel & what you need
Researcher and Author, Brene Brown talks a lot about the power of naming our emotions accurately in her book, Atlas of the Heart. Many of us are unaware of what we are specifically feeling. Sadness, grief, frustration, jealousy, envy, etc. Even through these emotions, we can still make space for extending compassion to ourselves.
When we accurately name our emotions by asking “what am I feeling”, we can move through them in ways that feel best for us. After we acknowledge those emotions and release any need to resist them, the next question to ask is: “what do I need?”
Asking the question: “what do I need?” creates a pivotal moment of presence for yourself.
Self-compassion also means honoring your own needs. When was the last time you asked yourself what you truly needed in any given moment? Maybe you need to eat a nourishing meal or drink some water. Maybe you need to listen to music that will leave you feeling upbeat or allow you to release a cry. Maybe you need to go for a walk and go offline.
When situations arise and emotions are high, stop to ask yourself what it is that you’re actually feeling. Gift yourself space to feel your emotions and then ask yourself what you need.
Oftentimes, we work so fast, moving from one task to another, that we rarely ask ourselves this crucial question.
Share with someone you trust
The people we spend time with are a reflection of how we see ourselves. It’s important to surround yourself with people who uplift, guide, and support you.
Along with naming our emotions and honoring what we need, we also must have people to connect and share with. When we bring awareness to our inner world by expressing it outward, this creates a huge shift in understanding ourselves & the world around us.
Whether it be a therapist, friend, coach, family member — there are always people who will embrace you with open arms. Sharing our stories and embracing that vulnerability will always feel rewarding when we share with the right people. It will allow you to feel seen, heard and understood.
This practice emphasizes the idea that we are all of common humanity, feeling similar emotions as those who surround us. This creates a powerful sense of community and fuels the understanding that we are truly never alone and we are all part of a similar human experience.
As you walk through your days or a challenging season, remember that you deserve love and kindness — no matter what. You are worthy of understanding and that the power of self-compassion can fundamentally change your life and expand you to new horizons. Keep walking that path. You deserve it.