In a previous post I mentioned that a lack of self-compassion is linked to unhealthy mindsets around food. Having self-compassion is essential for emotional resilience and well-being. To be compassionate is to show kindness, understanding and support to someone who is suffering. For me, being compassionate to others comes naturally, but to myself? Not so much. I can look back at times when I was, without a doubt, my own worst critic. I would never have dreamed of speaking to a good friend the way I spoke to myself. When faced with my own failures I responded with harsh judgement. If a friend had made that very same mistake, I no doubt would have told them that it’s okay, you’re human and I love you anyway.
If you’re lacking self-compassion, when faced with difficult life struggles, or when confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies then your gut reaction is likely to be one of self-loathing, criticism and self-judgement. Here are my steps to try to cultivate self compassion:
1. Become mindful. Try to acknowledge when you’re suffering and notice when you’re being overly harsh. You cannot begin to change if you are unaware of the problem.Stop comparing yourself to others, stop wishing you were someone else.
2. Accept who you are, flaws and all, I know it’s cliche, but no one is better at being you then you are, own it.
3. Affirmations – at first, they may feel stupid, or silly but repeat something enough and you will start to believe it. My affirmations include: ‘You are strong.’, ‘You are kind.’, ‘You are enough’ and ‘You have everything you need to be happy.’. Feel free to borrow them or better yet, develop your own.
4. Say no. Or nope, no thank you, no can do – take your pick! Be selfish, yes that’s right, put yourself first. I think women, especially Mums, have a really had time doing this but it’s so important. You cannot pour from an empty cup and you must always put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. Saying no could mean saying no to overtime at work when you’re feeling burnt out, saying no to something you have no interest in, or distancing yourself from people that bring you down.
5. Recognise your accomplishments. If your good friend hits a goal, do you compliment them? Then do the same for yourself. Reflect on you day, week, month, or year, write down your achievements and successes, what you feel you did well. We have a negativity bias and it’s way too easy to focus on our inadequacies and forget all about our the stuff we’re really fucking good at.
6. Forgive yourself – made a mistake? You’re human, it’s more than okay, in fact recognising imperfection is part of the shared human experience.
I must admit, that bitchy voice in my head does sometimes continue to kick me when I’m down, but by implementing some of the steps above, even on my worst days I can honestly say I like myself a whole lot more than I ever have before.
If you have any other tips, please share and have a wonderful week!