Self-Compassion Practices for Self-Care
Wednesday, September 19 2018 Heidi Green, Psy.D.
Self-compassion practices are often overlooked in our discussion of self-care. Most of us acknowledge the importance of engaging in self-care to maintain our physical, mental, and emotional wellness. When we talk about self-care, we often refer to engaging in fun, or relaxing activities. While that is certainly an important aspect of self-care, there is another equally important element that we often ignore: self-compassion practices are also part of self-care.
Self-compassion practices are a critical but underrated element of a healthy self-care regimen. Self-Compassion refers to the way we interact with ourselves during difficult times or when we experience painful emotions. It is the opposite of self-criticism. The practice of self-compassion involves treating oneself with loving kindness during moments of struggle or suffering. This self-compassion practice follows a simple principle: when you are upset, talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a person you were comforting.
Self-Compassion Practices Enhance Emotional Wellbeing
Self-compassion practices are not well-used although most people use compassion intuitively when interacting with friends and family members. When others are hurting, we offer them kindness, support, empathy, and encouragement. Strangely, when it comes to addressing our own struggles, many are more apt to engage in self-criticism and negative self-talk. Think about the last time you were struggling with something. Did you offer yourself empathy? Did you acknowledge how difficult the situation was and tell yourself it was okay to feel and express all your emotions? Conversely, did you tell yourself to suck it up or just get over it? Ask yourself now, would I talk to another person the way I sometimes talk to myself? If the answer is no, it might be time to reevaluate your self-talk.
When we talk to ourselves in the same supportive way we talk to others, we encourage our own healing and wellness. Acknowledging our pain and offering ourselves kindness can have the same impact as conversing with a good friend. It can be helpful to ask yourself what you might say to a friend going through a similar situation and then actively talk to yourself in that same way. People naturally respond better to positive, encouraging feedback. We grow best when we are supported and loved. It's only natural then, that we can encourage our own healing and self-growth with a kind, loving internal voice.
Self-Compassion Practice: Affirmations to Promote Healing
The next time you are struggling with something, try using some of these self-compassionate statements:
- This is hard. Everybody struggles sometimes. I'm no different than everyone else.
- I'm really hurting over this. It's okay to give myself time to feel sad and work through it.
- I'm really disappointed. It's only natural to feel this way. I can be gentle with myself right now.
- This is a lot to handle. No one is perfect, and I'm no exception. I'm doing the best I can.
Speaking to yourself in this way can soothe your pain and lead to faster healing. Try adding some self-compassion practices to your self-care routine and see if you notice an improvement in your recovery time. You might consider engaging in self-compassionate affirmations during a self-care activity like during a hot bath, a long walk, or while meditating. Comment below to let me know how you incorporate self-compassion practices into your self-care routine for optimal mental health and happiness.