The world feels a bit hell in a handbasket-ish at the moment but that doesn’t give you license to self-flagellate.
Instead, it’s a time to show yourself the same loving kindness you would a hurting best friend, a scared child, or an aging parent who just got some devastating news.
Research shows that practicing self-compassion makes us happier, less stressed, and more resilient. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT?!?!?!?!
Be your own best friend. It really is as simple (and as sometimes hard) as that.
Once I accepted this way of being (as opposed to beating myself up), I was finally able to do the work to fix my life and go from FML to FUCK YEAH I love my life.
To define self-compassion, let’s turn to the expert herself, Dr. Kristin Neff.
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?
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 – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness.
If this is a topic you want to explore deeper, I can’t recommend her books highly enough.
What I can do, though, is give you some practical ways to practice self-compassion!
Here are 5 activities you can do to show yourself self-compassion and cut yourself from slack already!
This is one of my fave ways to practice self-compassion and legit takes me 2-minutes.
✨ Acknowledge the suck (hurt, stress, shitty experience, whathaveyou). Say to yourself, “Yup – this really sucks!”
✨ Next, picture a loved one. I like to use my BFF Camille or my daughter but it can be anyone. If they came to you with this sucktitude…
What would you want them to know?
What would you want them to feel?
What would you want them to do?
✨ Now turn that on yourself…listen to your own wisdom + advice
Practice doing this until it becomes second nature. Our brains have the ability to change but we need those new neural pathways and that’s why practice is SO SO important!
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes, take out a sheet of paper and one of your precious pens, take a deep breath, and imagine yourself 5, 10, 20 years from now.
Really feel into her…how does she care for herself? Who does she surround herself with? How does she love to fill her days? What brings her simple pleasures + joy?
From that place, write yourself a letter from your future self. She loves you…she’s cheering for you because she can’t be living her rebelliously fulfilling life if today you is stuck in a pattern of self-abuse. It’s literally not possible.
Your future self is always available to you. Use her.
This one isn’t going to happen overnight but when it clicks into place with practice? Magic.
I learned this when I went through my life coaching certification from The Courageous Living Coach Certification with Kate Swoboda and team.
Your inner critic, inner monger, monster, etc. is a part of you and you can’t hate it AND expect yourself to feel better. You legit can’t hate your way to healing.
Instead, you can learn to be in a healthy relationship with your inner critic.
They’re trying to get your attention and tell you something for a reason (usually they’re trying to keep you “safe” and out of harm’s way) but they don’t know any better way than to fill your head with all the ways you suck as a person.
Next time you hear negative self-talk, take a pause and say, “I hear you and I’m going to need you to be more respectful so I can understand what it is you’re trying to tell me.”.
The first time I did this I kind of rolled my eyes at the activity but did it anyway (and yes, it felt weird, lol) and I was blown away.
When I got my inner critic to finally talk respectfully to me, she just wanted me to know that she was scared people were going to laugh at me.
Once I assured her we were safe…that I had her (my) back? She quieted down.
Remember…practice. You’re not going to get this overnight.
This is perhaps the easiest to set on auto-pilot and forget about it. Because I’ve practiced it so much, I no longer need the alarm or reminder and just intuitively check in with my inner critic and thoughts throughout the day.
Set an alarm or reminder on your phone a few times throughout the day and when it goes off, ask yourself if you’re practicing self-compassion…or not. If not, time to pivot and flood your brain with all the ways you’re NOT a shitty human being even if that’s what your brain has been telling you up to this point in the day.
Each day presents us with 86,400 (seconds in a day) opportunities to make a different choice. Use those opportunities to your advantage.
We all are…you’re no different. I know you technically know this but you need to KNOW this deep in your bones.
You are not perfect. Nothing you even do will make you a perfect person.
This one is best done when your brain is being extra asshole-y.
Take out a sheet of paper and a fave pen, set a timer for 10-15 mins, and brain dump alllllll the things your asshole brain is telling you.
Get it all out. Let those asshole thoughts see the light of day.
Now comes the real work – the self-compassion. Read each of the statements and actually write down what your BFF would say to you if you came to her and bared your soul in this way.
My guess is she’d meet you with love and kindness and tell you all the ways (i.e. evidence) that thought or feeling is categorically false.
Next time your brain is being a dick, pull out this sheet and remind yourself this is not how you choose to think of yourself. Just because your inner critic says it does NOT mean you need to believe it.
Your work is actively and intentionally not believing your inner critic.
Treating ourselves with self-compassion doesn’t come naturally to us…we’re not taught how to do this…but with intention and practice, you CAN form a loving relationship with your inner thoughts.
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Jen Vertanen is a Life Design Coach for action-takers who are ready to "do the work" to fully love their damn lives