"Take it easy."

"Be gentle with yourself."

I have heard these statements quite frequently lately.

"Give yourself a break."

"Show yourself some compassion."

During these times of uncertainty, turmoil, anxiety, and fear, I would venture to say that there is a need for compassion on a global scale.

It is easier to show compassion for others but to ourselves?
What does self-compassion mean? What does it look like?

According to Dr. Kristin Neff, author of Self Compassion
‘Self-compassion involves three components:
  • being kind and caring toward yourself rather than self-critical; 
  • framing imperfection in terms of the shared human experience; 
  • and seeing things clearly without ignoring or exaggerating problems’

Self-compassion is feeling whatever you are feeling, knowing you are not alone and relating to yourself with kindness. It involves turning inward. It involves taking care of your health and well-being.

In a culture that rewards
"pulling yourself up by your bootstraps";
"manning up";
"toughing it out", self-compassion is not well respected.
The belief is that practicing self-compassion will make you ‘soft’.

"In fact, the number one reason people give for why they aren’t more self-compassionate is that they’re afraid if they’re too soft on themselves, they’ll let themselves get away with anything." ~Dr. Kristin Neff Author of Self Compassion

Self-compassion is often confused with self-indulgence. While self-compassion requires you to turn inward towards your feelings and permitting your self to experience the feelings, self-indulgence is turning away from your feelings in order to feel better i.e retail therapy.

Why is treating yourself kindly important?
  • Maintaining your self-worth.
    • Losing your self-worth during these times, due to loss of a job, health issues, loss of a loved one will make it more challenging to recover
  • Increasing your level of motivation
    • It is easier to motivate yourself from a place of love and kindness than self-criticism and fear
  • Increase resilience
    • You are less likely to be overcome by your challenges. You have the ability to change course and recover.
  • Reduce anxiety, depression, and stress

Let me illustrate.

I introduce you to 11-year-old Annie. Annie really wants to make the school’s soccer team. She has been practicing and her parents are big soccer fans and have been encouraging her. However, when it came to the tryouts, despite her efforts she didn’t make the team. She is so disappointed.
Her parents’ are also disappointed.

Response 1:
"You didn’t work hard enough"; "You are lazy and you will never be good enough"  "I don’t know why you even try."

How encouraging is that? Will those comments encourage Annie to work towards improving? Trying again? Trying anything again?  Perhaps for a little while but not for long. She will internalize these comments and probably start repeating them to herself whenever she doesn’t achieve what she wants.

Now imagine you speaking to yourself in this self-critical way when you fail at something.
We all do it. Some of us are so good at it that we don’t even realize that we are doing it.

On the other hand, if her parents’ response were more like:

Response 2:
"Annie, yes it is disappointing. You really wanted to make the team."
"Just because you weren’t chosen doesn’t mean you don’t play well."
"There are other soccer teams you can try out for."
"What do you think you could do differently next time if you want to try out again?"

More encouraging, supportive and motivating. Annie is more likely to learn from her failures and is more likely to try again. Annie maintains her self-worth and it increases her ability to recover from her disappointment

See the difference?

How do you practice Self-Compassion?

  • Allow yourself to be imperfect
  • Treat yourself as if you were that small child
    • Speak to yourself as if you would a friend or a small child- supportive and  encouraging
  • Remember you are not alone
    • When we are struggling we tend to feel that we are the only ones experiencing the loss, failing or making mistakes.  You are not. It is all part of a shared human experience.
  • Comfort your body by eating healthy, moving it and resting up
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Hang out with animals  

Practice self-compassion.
Show yourself kindness and caring and you will be able to genuinely give more of the same to others.

When it comes down to it, you matter just as much as the next person.

Stay well!

Wish it. Dream it. Do it!

Nancy Smith
Vibrant You Coaching
"Faith, Focus, Finish"

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