Chances are, you have shown compassion to others going through a difficult time, but do you offer the same compassion to yourself?
If you had the slightest bit of hesitation answering this question, this post is for you.
I will be the first to admit that I continuously work on my own self-compassion. From things not going as planned or mistakes I have made, to how I’ve handled complex or stressful situations, I have quite the record of not being so kind to myself. Without going into novel-like details (I’ll save that for an actual book some day), I’ll share that I have demonstrated quite destructive behaviors toward myself resulting in less than ideal actions toward others. Have I felt guilt, shame, or like I am not measuring up? ABSOLUTELY. Do I still struggle with some of these self-defeating thoughts and behaviors? Occasionally, but throughout my journey I’ve learned to apply a few strategies to increase my practice of self-compassion. They have worked wonders!
Whether you have family drama, think Shameless sums up your family, have experienced loss, are typically the glue that keeps everything together, are worried about professional end-of-the year reports and deadlines, or have run through your budget about ten thousand times and can’t figure out a way to do or purchase what you’d like to, this time of year can be a challenging time that really does a number on our self-compassion.
Use one or more of these strategies if you find yourself being unkind to yourself.
1. Give yourself permission to…
accept your feelings, all of them! There is no such thing as a “bad” feeling. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel and recognize hard feelings, we cannot begin to feel compassion for ourselves. Without accepting your emotions, self-compassion cannot take place. Allow yourself to accept these emotions and practice a simple 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise if your emotions overwhelm you with intense anxiety.
2. Let go of…
perfectionism and judgment. Are you a human? If you answered yes, you are imperfect. That’s part of the beauty of being human isn’t it? Saying we are our own worst critic is an understatement. Let’s defy that and let go of judgement. There is enough of that going on around us, we do not need to do it to ourselves! If all else fails, show the same compassion to yourself as you would a child who might be struggling with something or going through a difficult time.
3. Write a letter to yourself as if you were writing to a close friend.
This has been the most helpful to me. I tend to express my thoughts best through journaling. Due to suggestions within prior therapy experiences, I began to take 15-30 minutes to write a letter to my close friend pretending they were going through the same experience in effort to practice self-compassion. Try it. I dare you.
4. Work with a life coach.
This self-compassion stuff is a lot easier said than done, especially as life has a way of being a never-ending rollercoaster. A life coach will demonstrate empathy, help you work through life’s challenges, and keep you accountable to what the both of you believe to be the best strategies for you given your individual circumstances. They may even give you a few self-care homework assignments to further assist you. Spoiler alert: you’ll most likely want to actually do this kind of homework!
If you haven’t caught on yet, I support visual and auditory experiences. In spirit of this week’s blog, “You’re a firework…” imperfections and all!
You do YOU!