Throughout our lives we will spend 100% of our time with ourselves, maybe not always alone but yourself is who you will spend the most amount of time with. But, the question remains, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we give advice, kindness and love to those around us but treat ourselves with the complete opposite mindset?
What is self-compassion?
We often advise friends, family members and perhaps even colleagues on what to do when they are facing a challenging time. We speak words of kindness to them, we console them and we speak in a gentle tone to ensure they feel supported during a time where they might feel quite vulnerable. Now picture yourself in a situation where you are facing challenges and difficulties, are you speaking those same kind words to yourself? Are you following the strong advice you give to friends and families? This is what self-compassion is, the act of being compassionate to yourself when faced with any difficulties.
If the answer is no, I urge you to continue reading. Self-compassion is lacking for many of us, we often don’t give ourselves the permission to pour the kindness we willingly give to others onto ourselves in the face of adversity.
Self-compassion isn’t spoken about enough nor is it really considered. We are always concerned about how other people are feeling and what they think of us. But, often, we do people’s thinking for them. When we make a mistake at work we may immediately assume that our colleagues think less of us, when in reality nothing has been said or done to suggest that. Or we might cut somebody up in traffic by mistake and spend the rest of the day beating ourselves up for it. It may sound silly but without self-compassion, you’ll be unable to forgive yourself or let any minor mistake go over your head without in-depth analysis and scrutiny.
How can I practise self-compassion?
Below are some questions I would like you to ask yourself as a check-in point:
- Would I use the words I feed myself to speak to a friend?
- Would I say this to my six year old self?
- What would happen if I treated myself as kindly as I would a friend?
- How forgiving am I with myself when I make mistakes or face rejection or failure?
These questions will give you a better understanding of how compassionate you are with yourself when facing a difficult time. If you’re finding yourself struggling to answer these honestly, you may need to practise more self-compassion. This can be incorporated into your daily life.
Imagine yourself in a board room with colleagues (or realistically, given the current climate, on an important zoom call). You have been up all night preparing your pitch to the board and you are surviving on coffee and red bull. Your name is called and your heart rate shoots up and you struggle to get your words out how you’d practised all night. You come away thinking it went horribly wrong and assuming that your colleagues now think less of you.
Now imagine that again, and if it helps, imagine you are speaking to a friend. This time you prioritise getting at least a couple of hours of sleep. Your name is still called and your heart rate still shoots up whilst you struggle to get your words out, but this time you ask for a moment and you take a couple of sips of water. You still feel as though it didn’t go how you’d hoped but this time you reassure yourself that you tried your hardest, this time you reassure yourself that your colleagues will now how hard you worked on that pitch and that they probably haven’t given the couple of moments where you forgot what you were saying, a second thought.
Call yourself out when you start speaking hateful words to yourself, whether over something major or something minor, recognise how differently you speak to yourself compared with a friend you care deeply about. You should be following the same advice you preach as well as giving yourself the same amount, if not more, love you willingly give out to make others feel better.
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Ciao for now x