Self-compassion is the Practice of honoring yourself
Not just when life is going smoothly, but even more importantly, when life presents challenges. Self-compassion is a necessary and healthy alternative to the typical knee-jerk reaction of criticizing ourselves during tough times.
When going through a rough patch or experiencing suffering of any sort, self-compassion becomes the comforting, non-judgemental, voice that helps us find meaning, perseverance and acceptance. It keeps us from getting stuck in a cycle of criticism, negativity and perfectionism.
Even if you don’t feel you’re very good at practicing self-compassion right now, the good news is, no matter how much pain or suffering you may be carrying inside, it’s still possible to develop self-compassion.
Notice how you talk to yourself when things go awry. If you discover you’re self critical and judgmental more often than not, I invite you to practice the following to help reverse this process.
First, simply acknowledge your harsh, judging voice inside your head
Next, pause and notice how it makes you feel. Decide if you’d like to feel differently. If you’re willing to change the way you treat yourself in the face of mishaps and struggles, you’re halfway there.
Each time you notice negative self-talk, stop and choose different language. Start to treat yourself like you would a dear friend or family member. Intentionally select different, more empowering words to replace the negative criticism and sit with the new feeling those words carry.
Notice how differently you feel when choosing gentler, more comforting and compassionate words. The more you do it, the easier it becomes and soon you’ll find your default reaction is to be more gracious and less judgmental towards yourself.
As you continue to practice self-compassion, you’ll begin to understand that you are perfectly loveable just as you are right now, even if you have goals and aspirations for greater personal growth.
Some people fear that developing self-compassion might lead to self-indulgence or self-pity; but neither is true as those traits are very different.
Self-indulgence is an unrestrained focus on pursuing pleasure or self-gratification, whereas self-compassion is simply being loving and forgiving toward yourself.
Self-pity is an excessive immersion in feeling sorry for yourself and even suggests that you’re a victim without a chance to create better circumstances. By contrast, with self-compassion you acknowledge that you’re capable of better and you have a choice to act on that by choosing more empowering words and actions.
Furthermore, don’t worry about developing a super-ego. This too is different because an egotistical person usually sees themselves as better than others or consciously elevates their own needs over others’. Self-compassionate people tend to value everyone’s happiness and are self-aware enough to know the importance of being kind and loving toward themselves as well.
We all go through difficult times.
Practicing self-compassion allows us to move through challenges with less self-criticism while experiencing more ease and grace. By being self-compassionate during difficulties, we’ll also enjoy the important by-products of strength and resilience. Try on this new perspective today!
About the Author
Linda Mitchell, a Professional Transformational Coach, is the founder of Linda Mitchell Coaching and Healing. She has been coaching and practicing in the healing arts for over 20 years, operating from a deep desire to empower people to move through life’s many challenges and transitions with ease and grace. Her unique “Reinvention Program” helps people reclaim balance, and better health and gain clarity on their next steps in order to define, create and truly live the life they desire.