Aliza Septimus, PsyD
3 Steps to Self-Compassion
"God, you can be so stupid sometimes!"
"Why would she be attracted to YOU?"
"You're just going to screw this up."
These are things you would probably never say to another human being (unless you're a real jerk). Yet how many of us have that inner critic that says these kinds of things all the time?
Most of us treat ourselves far more harshly than we would anyone else. That's a shame. In my experience, so much of the depression and anxiety my clients feel stems from a dysfunctional relationship they have with themselves.
But every day is a chance for you to develop a loving relationship with yourself. And the best way to do that is to practice self-compassion.
If that concept seems foreign to you or you are even uncomfortable with the idea of showing yourself compassion, then please keep reading to learn some simple but profound ways you can begin to practice self-compassion as a way to connect lovingly with yourself.
1. Become More Mindful of Your Feelings
Self-compassion is the pathway to emotional healing. But to begin, you must become more aware of your own emotions, especially as they relate to yourself.
Try to be more aware of when you are emotionally struggling with something. Perhaps you are feeling confused, desperate, or inadequate. Ordinarily, in these moments your inner critic may strike. But now, try and offer yourself kindness instead.
You may say something to yourself like, "I know you're disappointed. I also know you did your best. I am so proud of you!".
If you are at a loss for the right words in these moments, simply talk to yourself as you would a friend, or better yet, a small child.
2. Monitor Yourself
Until you become used to being compassionate toward yourself, you'll want to monitor the language you use. You are most likely so used to criticizing yourself that it will be far too easy for the wrong choice of words to come out. That's okay. In these moments you certainly don't want to scold yourself. Just be aware and make a compassionate correction.
3. Get Physical
There's a phrase that says, "get out of your head and drop into your body." This is a perfect way to begin the ritual of self-compassion.
Begin to use kind physical gestures with yourself. This could be gently massaging your temples when you're stressed, holding your hand over your heart when you're sad, or holding your own hand when you feel lonely. Any physical gesture, so long as it's loving, will help you show yourself true love and kindness in those moments.
For some people who have very low self-esteem, showing themselves compassion may prove to be incredibly difficult. In these cases, it's a good idea to speak with a therapist who can help them uncover where the feelings stem from and how they can change their thoughts and behavior.