Most people intuitively understand compassion when it comes to others who are suffering, but self-compassion is generally harder to grasp.
Self-Compassion: You Owe it to Yourself
When you see someone who is suffering or struggling and your heart reaches out to them, whether you act or not, you feel a tug of discomfort (whether you reach out to help them or not is another part of the complexity of compassion) and you sympathize or feel their pain, that is compassion.
When you yourself are struggling, your first reaction might be to turn to self-deprecating humor or to think how stupid you are. That is the opposite of self-compassion.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is when you recognize that you are human and not perfect, and you quit judging yourself for it. It’s when you give yourself a break.
There are three elements to being self-compassionate, mindfulness, an awareness of your common humanity, and self-kindness.
How Treating Yourself With Compassion Affects Your Life
Putting aside the self-judgement and recognizing that everyone has problems, everyone makes mistakes, and no one – no one – is perfect, lets you begin being kind to yourself.
If you bump your head, for example, and you call yourself a dummy for it, you are literally telling yourself that you are dumb – for something almost everyone does from time to time.
Judging yourself harshly, even when you use humor, it’s still negative, keeps you in an emotionally beaten state, and learning to respond to your humanity with kindness lets you recognize your worth and it lets you open the door to a healthier, happier life.
How to Treat Yourself With Compassion
If you catch yourself in the act of negative self-talk, stop – just stop – mid-sentence. Then, tell yourself the exact opposite of the negative thing you started to say. (Say it out loud if you are in a place you are comfortable doing that.)
Think of something you would absolutely love to have someone do for you – then stop waiting on someone else and tell yourself you are worth it and do it for yourself. This doesn’t have to be expensive – it can be as simple as giving yourself a foot massage after a hard day.
Write some simple affirmations about your self-worth and self-esteem and list some things you do well – and read them to yourself several times a day – out loud when possible.
Surround yourself with positivity as best you can. Read books that inspire you, visit websites like this one to find positive messages, and try to find positive people to include in your life – but don’t sweat it if you can’t find any – because you can learn to be a self-compassionate person with or without anyone else, and you are worth the effort.