The Amazing Value of Self-Compassion and How to Practice It

Do you treat yourself like your best friend or worst critic? Are you still beating yourself up for doing that one “stupid” thing the other day, or for not performing perfectly at that meeting last week?

Woman overlooking a lake

What if…

What would you say to a friend who was having a bad day? Her frustration was growing as lots of little things were going wrong and she was being hard on herself. 

I bet you’d give her a pep talk, point out how her mistake wasn’t as grandiose as she is perceiving it to be, or you may even lend a helping hand. 

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What if you’d treat yourself that way? 

What if you’d say “Self, you did the best you could. What you did was fine and now you know where you can improve. And by the way, you look great today!”

That’s self-compassion… embracing yourself and treating yourself like someone who loves you.

Not Familiar With Self-Compassion?

Compassion itself is defined by Merriam-Webster as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” You may offer non-judgment, understanding, and kindness to a person for their mistakes. 

Self-compassion is acting the same kind way to yourself. It’s taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to be less than perfect.

Easing your self-judgement is not much different than compassion for others, only it’s for YOU. 

By kindness toward yourself, I mean talking to yourself like someone who loves you would talk to you. It includes being gentle, supportive, accepting, and understanding – even when you make mistakes

A Tool to Combat Beating Yourself Up

Do you scrutinize yourself for your performance in various areas of your life?

Negative self-talk is a common form of beating yourself up, and it causes huge damage to yourself. This form of self-criticism is linked to:

  • Procrastination
  • Feelings of failure
  • Depression
  • Overall dissatisfaction with life

Being compassionate with yourself is one of the best things you can do to stop that self-destructive negative self-talk. 

Having self-compassion is a really important tool. It’s especially helpful for times of high levels of stress, anxiety, and frustration.

Have you ever thought something about yourself and then after ruminating about it for a while the issue at hand goes from a 1 to a 10? 

Instead of being you’re own worst critic, a little self-compassion with some kind, understanding, gentle talk can calm your thoughts and help you realize you’re being hard on yourself. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a good friend.

Self-compassion doesn’t mean ignoring your feelings. It actually helps you process your feelings.

But instead of beating yourself up, you stop and think… how can I be gentle with myself? What would I say and do if I was being gentle with myself?

Being compassionate with yourself will help you appreciate that even though you had a difficult experience, you’ll get through it. 

What Does Research Say?

Research has consistently shown a positive correlation between self-compassion and psychological well-being.

People who practice self-compassion have:

  • Increased happiness and optimism
  • Less fear about failure
  • And less depression and anxiety

One research experiment compared groups of people who did poorly on a test. The group who practiced self-compassion for just 3 minutes were:

  • Less worried about their weaknesses
  • Reported more motivation to avoid repeating mistakes
  • And they were more willing to change the things around their mistakes

So, self-compassion can motivate you to improve. You’ll be more likely to believe you can improve, correct your mistakes, and get back on track with your goals. That certainly will bring you joy!

3 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion

Woman with a flower

For me, practicing self-compassion is all about gratitude, forgiveness, and love. And I’m not talking about for others, it’s about doing these things for YOURSELF.

1 – Gratitude (Acknowledging)

We tend to be good at being grateful for others, but being grateful and acknowledging ourselves can be a whole different ball game. 

Do you empower yourself by taking time to acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and actions that help you move forward in your life?

Acknowledging yourself is simple, and it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s sort of like giving yourself a pat on the back. It’s taking just a moment to stop and consciously recognize yourself for taking any step outside of your comfort zone.

It doesn’t matter if that step was done well or not. The point is you acknowledge that you’re good enough as you are right now.

Read my post about the power of acknowledgements and how to acknowledge yourself to learn more about this powerful habit.

Make your habit of writing a special time by using personal journal that you find beautiful. Here are some available on Amazon:

2 – Forgiveness

So much is known about the healing power of forgiveness, yet why is it so difficult to forgive ourselves?

Self-forgiveness is about embracing every part of yourself; both strengths and flaws. Mistakes are a part of life, and it’s OK to make them.

For example, let’s say you procrastinated and then found yourself scrambling at the last minute. Research has found that beating yourself up only makes things worse, but self-forgiveness is useful.

“Forgiving oneself for procrastinating on a given task is related to less procrastination on a similar task in the future.”

You’re much better off to forgive yourself for not preparing well enough for that speech, meeting, or test that you bombed!

It’s OK to make mistakes. You’re not the only person who has struggled with any given experience, and nobody is perfect.

You’re human! All you can do is the best you can do. Forgive yourself when you don’t do something perfectly – you’ll be better positioned to do better the next time.

3 – Love

Love Yourself

Here again, I’ll refer to my friend Merriam-Webster who defines self-love as

“an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.”

You know that person who thinks overly highly of themselves and that they’re better than others? That’s called a big ego (at best), not self-love.

I like this definition of self-love:

“Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.”

Dr. Andrea Brandt

When you practice self-love, you’re continually being aware of every aspect of yourself – even the not-so-good parts. And, you love them all.

Oh, no time to practice this one? What if by first loving yourself you’ll be better able to love other people? That’s right, loving yourself extends to your family and friends.

Take the time! Start with these ideas: 31 Simple & Free Self-Care Activities for Busy Women and then read How to Fill Your Own Cup First.

See Yourself Through Kinder Eyes

Notice something you don’t like about yourself? Going through a difficult time? Be kind to yourself!

If you make a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Know that you’re doing the best you can and give yourself a break when you mess up. You might be surprised how much more calm and peaceful you can be. 

If you’ve denied yourself compassion for years, it will take time for you to become aware of exactly how you’re treating yourself. Be gentle with yourself, and treat yourself like your own best friend. Every time you’re feeling down about yourself, practice self-compassion.

Would love to hear your thoughts about self-compassion. Please leave a comment!

17 Replies to “The Amazing Value of Self-Compassion and How to Practice It”

  1. Self compassion and self forgiveness is hard, but how can we learn if we are not making a few mistakes along the way? Wonderful post and reminder for everyone!

  2. This was something I hugely struggled with when Elsie was first born – so much new mum guilt and lack of sleep is such a toxic cocktail. I’m working hard on being self compassionate it’s just so important. I will refer back to this post when I need a boost!

    1. I love reading your posts about all the fun you and Elsie have together. You’re doing great and absolutely should be compassionate with yourself.

    1. Absolutely. I noticed a few of my clients who deserve more compassion for themselves, and that’s what motivated me do a deep dive into the topic.

  3. Sometimes I need to remind myself of the same thing that I coach other people about…you need to take care of yourself so that you have enough energy to take care of others.

  4. This is just timely! I worked for less than 40 hours this week, and I told myself that I’m “lazy.” Maybe I need to be more self-compassionate and think that a break from my regular 80 hours is okay. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you’re rethinking the being lazy, as I bet you wouldn’t consider your friend lazy if they worked 40 hours/week! Thanks for dropping by the blog.

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