What does self-compassion mean?
Welcome to week three of the Women’s Wellness Challenge! I hope you have enjoyed the first two weeks on the topics of nourishment and connection. This week, we will be talking all about compassion which is the third pillar of personal wellness according to Well College Global who have inspired this series. Compassion is important not only for our own wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of others and our society.
With everything going on in the world at the moment, I think we could all do with a reminder to have more compassion! But what does this really mean? Compassion is the ability to have awareness and understanding of challenging emotions and the urge to do something about it. This can include having empathy for others who are suffering and the desire to help them in some way. We can also show compassion for ourselves which is what I want to focus on today.
What does self-compassion mean and why is it important?
Self-compassion means being aware of our own emotions and responding with care and kindness. It also means listening to our needs and taking the time to meet them, rather than ignoring or judging them. Self-compassion is a tool that we can use to support our wellbeing in difficult moments. It is a way of responding when life doesn’t exactly go to plan and prevents us from spiraling into self-hate if we don’t meet our own expectations.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in the field of self-compassion states:
“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?”
If you are lacking in self-compassion, you might find yourself often:
- Blaming yourself when things go wrong
- Criticizing parts of yourself
- Being overly harsh towards yourself
- Ruminating on past mistakes
- Speaking unkindly to yourself
Experiencing these things on a regular basis will negatively affect your overall health and wellbeing. Particularly on a mental and emotional level but also physical as critical thoughts create tension which blocks the energy flow throughout your body. On the other hand, sowing yourself more compassion means you will respond in a more helpful manner when things go wrong, making you more resilient and able to bounce back.
You might also find this post helpful : Nourish your mind with kind thoughts
How to practice self-compassion
The first step towards developing self-compassion is becoming mindful of critical thoughts and not allowing them to take over. So often we live life in auto-pilot and our subconscious mind runs riot. We could be speaking harshly to ourselves all day long and not even notice because we are so used to it. Small comments like “I am so stupid” or “I never get anything right” might go unnoticed but it doesn’t mean they have no effect.
Starting to pay attention to how you think and speak to yourself can be challenging at first as you become aware of the hurtful things you say to yourself. But once you are aware, you have the power to change things. Replacing critical thoughts with more kind and understanding ones is not always easy but you do have this choice. It is important to remember your inherent worth as a human being and care for yourself as you would a friend or child in moments of need.
You can also practice self-compassion by:
- Using positive affirmations or mantras
- Letting go of perfectionism and unrealistic ideals
- Maintaining self-care rituals that nourish and relax you (more on that later in the week)
- Practicing meditation and breathwork
- Keeping a self-compassion diary
Using these tools daily over a period of a few months can completely turn around your attitude towards yourself and enable you to live a life of balance and wellbeing!
Today’s challenge: Keep a self-compassion diary
I recommended this task in my previous post on self-compassion but I will repeat it today as I think it is a very important exercise!
1. In carry a small notebook with you over a 24 hour period and whenever you notice a self-judgement (positive or negative) pop up, write it down, especially any judgements relating to your current health goals
2. At the end of the experiment, reflect on what you have written. How many times did you judge yourself? In what situations? Were your judgements mostly positive or negative?
If you find that you are often criticising yourself and your day is packed with negative self-talk, it’s maybe a good idea to focus on developing your self-compassion. You can start by going through every negative item on your list and thinking of how you would respond if YOU were a coach and speaking to a client trying to improve their health. Developing your own inner coach or cheerleader is the most powerful thing you can do to reach any goal you have in life!
Over to you…
- Comment: Do you feel like you could show yourself a little more self-compassion on your journey to better health and wellbeing? Share your experiences below!
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