Let’s face it, we can all be our own toughest critics. But for some people, this behavior goes beyond small criticisms to a long-term pattern of destructive behavior. This is where self-compassion comes in.
“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings,” according to psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff.
Here are some ways you can add a little more self-compassion to your life:
Build a Support Network
Whatever you are going through, no matter how unique it seems, you’re not the only one experiencing that issue. There are billions of people in the world, and we’re all a lot more similar than the media leads us to believe.
Seek out friends and family to help remind you to practice self-compassion. Sometimes a gentle reminder from someone you care about is all you need to get yourself back on track and out of a bad place.
You can also find support groups online for just about anything; you might find that virtual support works just as well for you as what your receive from your IRL friends and loved ones.
Don’t Give Up
As with a lot of things, practicing self-compassion is likely to make you feel worse before you start feeling better. You need to get to the core of your negative thoughts and emotions before you can begin to move past them.
You might be tempted to stop trying self-compassion when these feelings arise, but keep pushing through and you’ll be rewarded with the long-term change that comes with being kinder and gentler on yourself and your behavior in the long run.
Having your support system in place will help you power through these difficult moments. Working with a trained therapist is another great way to manage this process.
When all else fails? Just breathe. Breathing and guided meditation are essential elements of practicing self-compassion and are great ways to bring you out of your head for a few moments to focus on what really matters in life.