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Stop Beating Yourself Up: How Self-Compassion Can Improve Your Life

What you tell yourself matters.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve just beat yourself up and told yourself that you were stupid or worthless, or spoken to yourself in a way that no one should ever be spoken to? If so, then you’re not alone.

Regardless of if you call it the ‘inner critic’, ‘self talk’ or the ‘inner saboteur’, many people experience that harsh self judgement that can really bring them down and make them question their value and worth.

It’s in situations like this where having the ability to practice self-compassion can be not only beneficial, but absolutely vital.

How to ‘do’ that negative self-talk problem.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients who are frequently telling themselves that they’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not attractive enough’, ‘not smart enough’, ‘not funny enough’, or ‘not rich enough’ amongst many other self beliefs.

They’ve experienced loss in their life because ‘they’re stupid’ or because ‘no one can love me’.

They seemingly focus on everything that is wrong with them and allow that thought to manifest until it becomes a reality for them and, in the process, keep themselves small and unable to engage in their life in a way that is meaningful and purpose driven for them.

If you're constantly viewing your world through the shame driven lens of not being good enough, they your mindset and the expectations that you place on yourself are naturally going to be limiting and hold you back from doing the things that might matter to you.

Having the ability to show self-compassion can help us be more resilient, feel more fulfilled and live a happier life. It involves accepting yourself for who you are, rather than judging yourself harshly for your mistakes, failures or shortcomings.

As many people know, it can be difficult to practice self-compassion, especially living in a world that seems obsessed with perfection. However, it is possible to learn how to be kinder to ourselves and to develop a healthier relationship with ourselves and our emotions.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion is defined as the ability to be kind and understanding towards oneself, even in difficult situations or when making mistakes. It involves treating yourself with the same level of care and concern that you would offer to a close friend or family member.

Self-compassion is not about denying or ignoring your flaws and mistakes, but rather acknowledging them and then offering yourself the same level of understanding and acceptance that you would give to someone else. It involves being aware of your emotions and experiences, rather than burying them under layers of self-criticism and shame.

The benefits of Self-Compassion

Research has found that self-compassion has many positive effects on our mental and physical health. People who practice self-compassion are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and more likely to be satisfied with their lives. They also tend to experience greater self-esteem, better psychological well-being, and improved physical health.

Self-compassion can also help us stay motivated and take action on our goals. Rather than feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by our mistakes, self-compassion allows us to take a step back and recognize that mistakes are part of the learning process. It helps us to reframe our experiences in a more positive light and move forward with a renewed sense of optimism.

How to Practice Self-Compassion

Practicing self-compassion can be difficult, especially if you are used to being self-critical.

Here are some tips to help you start incorporating self-compassion into your life:

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: When you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed, take a moment to acknowledge and accept your feelings. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a close friend or family member and remember that all feelings, whether positive or negative, are valid.

2. Practice Self-Kindness: Rather than focusing on your flaws and mistakes, practice self-kindness by focusing on your strengths and successes. Take time to appreciate yourself for all that you have accomplished and for the person you are.

3. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts: Our thoughts can have a powerful impact on our emotions and behavior. When negative thoughts start to creep in, practice mindfulness and try to focus on the present moment.

4. Take Care of Your Needs: Taking care of yourself is an important part of self-compassion. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, exercise, and take time for yourself to do activities that bring you joy.

5. Seek Support: Connecting with others can be a great way to practice self-compassion and to find comfort and understanding. Reach out to friends and family or join a support group to get the support you need.

A Simple Self Compassion Meditation

I often guide my clients through a simple self compassion meditation that can help them to become the observer of their difficult thoughts and feelings.

Below is a step by step which you can practice, or you may wish to make a recording to guide yourself through.

* Close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths. Scan the body from head to toe and notice where you feel the feeling most strongly in your body.
* Imagine that you could ‘see’ that feeling. What do you notice about it? What shape is it? Does it have a colour? A texture? Is there any movement? Does it have a temperature? Is it solid or gaseous? What we’re essentially doing here is developing the ability to observe the feeling instead of being fully engaged IN the feeling.
* Imagine that you can breath into that space and around that feeling, creating space for that feeling. No matter how big that feeling is, you can always be bigger than it and you’re creating space for that feeling by breathing in and around it. The aim here isn’t to change the feeling, although it might change by itself. It is to simply allow the feeling to be there, to observe it, to allow it to be.
* When you’re ready, take a hand and place it where you feel the feeling most intensely. Imagine that this is a healing hand - the hand of a loved one. Imagine a loving warm and kindness flowing from that hand and into that feeling.
* When you’re ready, you can begin to bring yourself back to the room.

You could also try listening to this recording below:

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Self-compassion can fuel resilience and overcome challenging moments.

Self-compassion is an essential part of life that can help us be more resilient, feel more fulfilled, and improve our overall well-being. It involves treating ourselves with the same level of kindness and understanding that we would extend to a close friend or family member.

By practicing self-compassion, we can learn to be more accepting of ourselves and our experiences, rather than judging ourselves harshly for our mistakes and flaws. With the tips and strategies outlined above, you can start practicing self-compassion and take the first steps towards a healthier and happier life.

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