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Why self-compassion matters to your mental health

Plus top tips to harness self-compassion for a happier you

Your quality of life depends on how well you are equipped to deal with emotional distress.

A compassionate, caring attitude toward yourself and others is not only the beginning of happiness but also the foundation for a healthy mind and fruitful interpersonal relationships. Seriously though,  when you are dealing with psychological distress, it is hard to see past the pain itself.

How do you cope with adult life if you feel powerless to mental health problems that hold you down and keep you stuck?

How can you get rid of feelings of hopelessness, sadness and depression when you lack the tools to deal with them?

How do you become strong enough to confront your fears?

How this article will help statement:
It turns out that the key to overcoming all these problems is  Self-compassion.
And in this article, I will reveal just how vital self-compassion is to overcoming emotional challenges
Ready?

Let's consider this first question...

What Is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is a unique personality trait that focuses on treating oneself kindly. This means thinking of oneself as worthy of love and kindness, even in times of difficulty. Self-compassion involves taking a kind, nonjudgmental stance toward one's own suffering.

It includes three main components:

1. Mindfulness

2. Self-kindness

3. Nonjudgment

Being self-compassionate means that you're able to:

- Be aware of your feelings and your reactions to these emotions.

- Take a kind, understanding perspective on your own experiences.

- Don't judge yourself harshly for having certain thoughts and feelings.

What does self-compassion do?

Self-compassion can help you deal with anxiety and negative thoughts because it helps you recognise your thoughts and feelings, accept them, and move on. It helps you to get through challenging experiences. Self-compassion doesn't just make you feel better. It changes the way you think about yourself and your emotions.

It helps you cope with life's challenges because it teaches you to understand and respond to yourself in healthy ways.

Why is self-compassion important for your well-being?

Your mental health is more than just feeling happy, relaxed and free from stress. It’s about your ability to cope with the ups and downs of life and your overall happiness.

Self-compassion helps us bounce back from failures, challenges, and disappointments. It’s about tolerating pain, mistakes, and failures without letting them take control over you.

Without self-compassion, you may be unable to effectively manage the negative emotions, such as anger, guilt, and shame that follow a failed attempt, and you may struggle to deal with your mistakes.

You might find yourself feeling isolated, depressed, and worthless. You might also have trouble forgiving yourself and taking responsibility for your actions.

You'll tend to get stuck in difficult experiences. You'll become afraid of your own feelings and tend to see only problems everywhere.

Without self-compassion, It's easy to get trapped in a cycle of thinking that you're fundamentally bad, incapable of change, and have no hope. This is where depression, anxiety, and emotional disorders stem from.

How can self-compassion help you?

Self-compassion helps you maintain motivation

‍When it comes to improving motivation, most people assume that we have to pressure ourselves to get things done. If we feel badly enough about ourselves, we’ll be motivated to do better. In the case of pimples, we might try to convince ourselves that it’s embarrassing to have acne. But this only increases feelings of embarrassment and shame.

And this is yet another reason why self-compassion is so important.  Motivation improves when you are self-compassionate because self-compassion helps you avoid the vicious circle of self-criticism. It also promotes persistence. Persistence means sticking with an idea or plan until you achieve your goal, no matter how long it takes. 

You won’t persist if you feel bad about yourself.

Another way that self-compassion improves motivation is by improving your ability to cope with failure. In other words, self-compassion helps you deal with the inevitable disappointment of not meeting your goals.

So when you fail to complete a project, a relationship, or a goal, self-compassion allows you to see this as just part of life. You learn that failures happen and you keep going. You don’t beat yourself up about them, because you have compassion for yourself.

Finally, self-compassion helps motivate you to be patient. It helps you learn to wait for the reward that is going to come when you finish the task, relationship, or goal.

Self-compassion helps in reducing stress

If you think about it, how we treat ourselves and what kind of attitude we have towards ourselves, will definitely impact our lives. When we are feeling low, we tend to put more weight on our problems and make them seem more serious than they actually are.

When this happens, we get discouraged and lose hope. We start to wonder if there is any chance that our problems can be solved. This can lead us to have negative feelings towards ourselves.

This in turn will negatively affect our lives because we start to doubt ourselves, our future, and our ability to handle difficult situations in life.

Self-compassion helps us to understand that it is OK to feel bad and that we should learn how to live with it. We can learn to accept ourselves for who we are and learn to be loving towards ourselves.

By being compassionate towards ourselves, we can feel better about ourselves, our future, and our world.

With time and practice, we can learn to develop self-compassion. It starts when we notice our feelings and can notice when we have been mean or judgmental towards ourselves. When we take a moment to notice and reflect on our own feelings, we start to develop a more positive outlook and a more positive relationship with ourselves.

Self-compassion helps to transform you into an effective person

Self-compassion transforms you by helping you see your suffering more clearly and take a more conscious approach to managing your thoughts. 

When you use self-compassion, you can...

• See yourself and others with greater insight, compassion and empathy.

• Look deeply into your mind to understand your thoughts, emotions, and reactions.

• Take an interest in the thoughts and feelings of others, as you do in yourself.

• Know that you can manage your feelings and behaviors in healthy ways.

• Have a more realistic view of your situation.

• Accept that things can’t always go your way and that it’s okay to experience negative feelings.

• Be kind to yourself when you’re struggling.

• Take the time to care for yourself.

• Recognize your strengths and talents.

• Be open to new ideas and opportunities.

• Appreciate the positive changes that you’ve made in your life.

• Learn how to accept the changes that you’re going through now.

• Grow in your capacity to forgive yourself and others.

You might avoid people because you don’t want to hear what they have to say. Or you might try to get rid of them by ignoring them.

All these behaviours are examples of self-destructive behaviours that undermine your well-being and limit your growth.

These types of beliefs lead you to a place of scarcity when you are, in fact, surrounded by people who care about you and a world full of possibilities. As such, you don't see any opportunities for yourself and feel trapped and hopeless.

Combining self-compassion with mindfulness helps you become more resilient in life

How can self-compassion help you build resilience?
When you have a sense of inner peace despite the ups and downs of life. You're able to adapt to change, rise above setbacks, and persevere through difficulties.

People with high levels of resilience tend to be more optimistic, have higher self-esteem, feel happier, and have fewer health problems. It’s not that they are "lucky" or immune to challenges. It’s simply that they don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, they focus on their strengths and find ways to improve themselves.

The good news is that you can learn to develop resilience. You can learn to respond to setbacks with perspective and wisdom. You can cultivate a positive mindset by practising mindfulness, which can help you be more resilient.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with an open, nonjudgmental, accepting attitude. By learning to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, you can begin to notice your negative thinking patterns and replace them with more realistic and balanced thinking.

The first step towards cultivating a positive mindset is becoming aware of your thinking. It is much easier to change old habits than it is to create new ones. If you are having negative thoughts, such as, “I’m never going to get this job,” “Everything I touch turns to shit,” or “My partner hates me,” you can change those thoughts into something more positive by saying to yourself, “I believe that I am a competent person,” or “I know that everything happens for a reason and that this is just one of those things.”

Once you are aware of your thoughts, you can start noticing what you do to reinforce them. You can ask yourself, “Why do I keep repeating these negative thoughts? Why can’t I replace them with positive thoughts?”

You can also practice mindfulness to notice your negative thinking patterns and challenge your self-critical, critical, and judgemental thoughts. For example, if you notice that you are telling yourself, “Nobody likes me,” you can change that to, “This is a great opportunity to meet some new people.”

Once you become aware of your thoughts, you can begin to choose how you respond to them. You can ask yourself, “Will this thought help me achieve my goals?” and “Is this thought helpful or unhelpful to me?”

Two types of thinking help you achieve your goals. One is constructive thinking, where you can think about how you can achieve your goal. The other is destructive thinking, where you are caught up in your emotions, like anger or fear.

If you notice that you are engaging in destructive thinking, like, “I can’t do this!” “I can’t stand this job!” or “He doesn’t love me anymore!” you can change it by asking yourself, “What is my goal here?” If your goal is to improve your performance at work, “How can I approach this situation differently?” If your goal is to be happy, “What is causing me to be so sad?” “How can I change this?”

You can also use the following phrases to help you redirect your negative thinking into positive thoughts:

“This too shall pass”

“It's only temporary”

“I have the strength to handle this”

 

Self-compassion is crucial for dealing with shame?

The shame spiral of insecurity and self-criticism can lead to self-destructive behaviour. It can make you feel so guilty about something you want to change that you can’t face the challenge.

It can prevent you from trying to change and give in to the temptation to keep your behavior the same as it was before.

This way, your life just keeps going down the drain. But if you can learn to respond to these feelings of shame in a non-self-critical way, you can interrupt the shame spiral.

You learn to treat yourself with kindness and care when you do this. This is self-compassion at work.

It’s like a powerful new friend who’s there for you when you need help with a challenging situation. Because it’s someone you know and trust, you’ll feel less stressed out and worried about disappointing it. So you’ll feel more confident and empowered. Instead of giving up, you’ll be more able to look at your challenges objectively and try to change what you can.

Self-compassion can help you reduce burnout?

Burnout isn’t just the result of exhaustion or being overwhelmed with work; it is also caused by your inner response to stress. Burnout is the result of feeling disconnected from your work and having no compassion for your own needs and feelings.

Self-compassion is the capacity to hold yourself with kindness instead of judging yourself harshly for how you feel.

When you’re under pressure, you may not have the energy or the emotional resources to show compassion to yourself. So you end up treating yourself unfairly, believing you’re defective.

Instead, when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s helpful to try to find moments of compassion for yourself. Compassion allows you to acknowledge that there’s a part of you that’s struggling and that you’re doing the best you can right now.

It can help you take care of yourself by giving you energy and focus when you need it most.

For example, if you feel overwhelmed and tired in the morning, you can practise self-compassion by taking a few minutes to notice that you’re feeling exhausted. You can also practise self-compassion by imagining how you would treat someone who’s had a rough night.

You can imagine a caring friend who knows what you’re going through and who’s there for you. Try to imagine a friend who notices how hard it is for you to get out of bed, and tries to support you in any way possible.

Then try to imagine yourself as this kind friend. You can think of these caring friends when you need a break and when you’re feeling stressed.

Self-compassion helps you overcome depression and anxiety

Self-criticism, negative judgment and blame are part of the toxic mix of emotions that lead to mental illness. These are negative emotions that arise from our beliefs about ourselves. For example, if you believe you are a failure, then you become more prone to developing depressive episodes. Or If you have low self-esteem and expect to fail, you are more likely to become anxious.

At the center of any mental health issue is a belief that something about us is faulty. And when we see ourselves in this way, we experience a strong urge to change our internal reality. But this urge can become overwhelming. And, as a result, we often feel overwhelmed, stressed, and trapped.

Self-compassion is a powerful antidote to these toxic emotions. This is because when we develop self-compassion, we begin to see the world from a different perspective. We are no longer viewing ourselves through a lens of negativity. Instead, we see that we are worthy of compassion and that others value us. That changes the way we respond to ourselves and others.

As a result, we develop a new inner compass. This is the source of our motivation to live well. It provides us with a deep sense of acceptance, which reduces our fear of failure. And it encourages us to be kind to ourselves and to others, thus making it easier to overcome depression and anxiety.

Self-compassion helps you move on from past mistakes

 When you're feeling guilty about something you've done, or regretting something you haven't done, it can be hard to let go. The truth is that, while we have no control over things that happen in the past, we do have control over our present actions and our future thoughts and feelings.

The way to move on is to be aware of your own thought patterns. To notice when you're dwelling on old wounds and using them as a justification for not moving forward. To be conscious of what you're thinking about and why. And then, to choose to change the way you're thinking so that you can create new habits.

When you can do this, you can move past your mistakes in a healthier way. You'll be able to accept yourself and your actions as they are right now. And instead of letting the past hold you back, you'll have a clearer view of where you are going, and how to get there.

Self-compassion is an essential component of that process.

When we have self-compassion, we know what we're capable of and what we can't do. We don't waste energy feeling sorry for ourselves or being overly critical. Instead, we accept our reality and take responsibility for our mistakes. 

And if we're willing to face our own imperfections, we can heal. And once we've healed, we have more room to focus on our dreams. So we can move on. We can make something of our lives.

But why is self-compassion so hard to learn?

Self-compassion is hard because we are programmed to focus on our mistakes and dwell on how bad we are.

We are also told not to worry about what others think of us. We are taught to be critical and judgmental of ourselves.

So we tend to be very critical of our mistakes and feel that we have to be perfect. But when we self-criticize, we tend to ruminate about things like "I suck at life". And that makes us feel worse.

So it's no wonder that self-compassionate people tend to suffer less from stress. Because they know that being imperfect is okay. That it's part of being human. They know that their mistakes are part of the process. And they realize that their feelings aren't as important as helping them grow.

How to make self-compassion easier to learn.

It is all about your mindset.

If you can approach self-compassion like it is a skill that you can work on, you will see your self-compassion growing. The key is to avoid blaming yourself for struggling to learn it and give yourself time to grow into self-compassion. It is not something that happens overnight.

WARNING! Can You Be Too Self-compassionate?

Yes! If you focus on yourself too much, you may end up being self-obsessed and selfish. However, this is in the extreme case where you totally ignore any negatives you see in yourself.

However, If you keep a good balance between self-compassion and self-criticism, you will be able to grow and change as a person. Be able to keep your head above water.

It's important to notice when you start focusing too much on yourself and how you think you look, sound, smell, or talk. It's also important to notice when you start thinking about your past mistakes, or whether you did a good job at work today.

It's possible to be too self-compassionate, but it's also true that there is a big difference between loving yourself and being too self-obsessed. Self-compassion means accepting yourself as you are and not focusing so much on your weaknesses that you forget to accept yourself.

Self-compassion also means understanding that you're not perfect and noticing and accepting that. If you only notice and accept your good qualities, you may overlook your faults.

It's important to accept that you're not always going to be perfect. You can't expect to always have the best day. If you focus too much on your mistakes, you may not try as hard next time. But if you also focus too much on your good qualities, this might destroy your motivation to push yourself forward.

It's important to know that your flaws and weaknesses aren't your whole self. They are only part of who you are. In fact, they aren't even necessarily bad. And knowing how to work cooperatively with your flaws are a crucial part of becoming a better version of yourself.

Accepting your flaws is a big step toward becoming more comfortable with yourself.

Why self-compassion is healthier than self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves. It is a feeling of worthiness, competence, value, and confidence.

The problem is that it’s often built on a foundation of insecurity. If you feel you aren’t worthy or valuable, you won’t be able to feel good about yourself. And if you aren’t competent, you won’t be able to feel confident.

On the other hand, self-compassion is a feeling of care, kindness, and understanding towards yourself. It can help you learn to look at your own experience, including the painful aspects of life, with acceptance, gentleness, and curiosity. This helps to create a more open and trusting relationship with yourself. In other words, it helps you feel safe and loved.

Focusing purely on self-esteem will lead to negative feelings and low self-confidence. But focusing on self-compassion will make you feel safe and capable of being with difficult emotions. And you'll feel more capable of taking action in your life. That means you'll be able to have a richer, fuller life.

Why self-compassion differs from self-pity

A key distinction to understand is that self-compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself or letting yourself off the hook. It's a way to treat yourself kindly, with understanding and compassion.

We often think of self-compassion as accepting the suffering that comes with life, including painful emotions like sadness, anger, and frustration. But self-compassion doesn’t mean giving up on yourself and denying the difficulties of your life. Instead, self-compassion means finding a way to live with them.

Self-compassion means being gentle with yourself. It's a way of responding to painful emotions without running away from them. It's a way of embracing life’s challenges and struggles without losing faith in yourself.

The ultimate goal of self-compassion is to see things from your own point of view, even if that means being kind to yourself.

Self-pity on the other hand is when you feel sorry for yourself. It is thinking that you’re a victim of circumstances like being punished by a God. 

Self-pity assumes that all is lost and that the pain you’re going through is outside of your control and the pain is so severe that there’s no hope for a positive outcome.  

Self-pity often produces emotions such as anger and resentment. It can also lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and self-hate.

Is self-compassion the same as self-love?

A common belief people hold about self-love is that it is selfish. 

In other words, loving yourself means loving yourself more than anyone else. But the truth is that self-love and self-compassion are two different things.

Self-love is a quality that makes you feel happy, secure, and joyful. It makes you want to be around yourself and is usually a quality you get when you experience a lot of love from others.

Self-compassion is feeling kindness towards yourself, even when you are experiencing negative emotions like anger, sadness, loneliness, and self-criticism. 

It's noticing your emotions and accepting your feelings without being judgmental or condemning yourself.
Looking at self-love from this perspective, you can see that it complements self-compassion. You can allow yourself to feel more compassionate if you have a balanced sense of love for yourself.

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Self-compassion versus self-indulgence

Self-indulgence means self-gratifying, that is, having pleasure without any thought of others. It is the opposite of self-compassion, which is to understand and accept oneself in the moment with love and kindness. When you are self-indulgent you are self-centred and are addicted to your own desires. You can become dependent on your own sense of well-being and happiness, which leads to feelings of self-pity.

A person who is self-indulgent is not able to tolerate the presence of suffering in their life, as such it is difficult for them to empathize with others because they are too preoccupied with their own needs. 

In contrast, a person who practices self-compassion treats themselves with warmth, understanding, and tenderness. They can experience and live in the present moment with equanimity, regardless of whether their circumstances are positive or negative.

Can self-compassion turn into narcissism?

Self-compassion is often seen as a good thing. It means treating yourself kindly, rather than harshly, in times of stress or sadness. But too much compassion can become a kind of narcissism—an unhealthy emphasis on your own needs or preferences at the expense of other people.

Narcissism is a form of selfishness that involves viewing others as objects, rather than as fellow human beings. In order to avoid becoming narcissistic, self-compassion needs to be balanced with healthy boundaries.

The best way to create healthy boundaries is to avoid being overly nice to yourself, especially when you feel you are doing well. It is natural to want to be acknowledged for your efforts, and to bask in the glow of having achieved something.

But if you feel good about yourself only when you succeed, you’ll soon feel as if you can never fail. You’ll feel so proud and accomplished that you’ll begin to see your life in a very positive light. In fact, you’ll see yourself more and more as a success.

You’ll see others less as people and more as objects. You’ll become increasingly aware of your own needs and wants, and become even more critical of others. You may begin to view yourself as a victim of circumstances beyond your control.

But most importantly, you will begin to lose interest in other people. You may become increasingly isolated and withdrawn. In fact, you may come to believe that you are the only person in the world who feels that way.

So if you feel guilty about not feeling enough love for yourself or not giving enough of your love to others remember that you can be compassionate and loving toward yourself without being selfish.

Overcoming self-criticism for good

Why self-criticism can become so toxic

Self-criticism is the belief that you are a flawed and inadequate person. It is the way people with social anxiety tend to look at themselves and their thoughts. 

It usually includes the belief that you are inferior, inferior to others, and worthless. You might believe that you're a bad friend, a lousy parent, or an undesirable member of society.

Your self-criticism often stems from feeling guilty, ashamed, and inferior.

When we're self-critical, we're more likely to worry about ourselves, creating more stress and self-criticism.

When we're self-critical, we also find it easier to notice things that are wrong with us. This makes us feel more self-conscious, and we become more prone to self-judgement.

Self-criticism is so prevalent in our society that we're rarely taught how to stop it. The problem with self-criticism is that it doesn’t lead to self-compassion. In fact, it prevents us from seeing ourselves as a worthwhile and valuable person.

It’s not easy to stop self-criticism. You need to be able to notice when you're judging yourself and replace these judgments with compassionate acceptance of yourself.

That means you need to learn to accept your failures, mistakes, and shortcomings. And you need to let go of your need to be perfect.

You also need to see yourself as you are and not as you'd like to be. You need to accept that you are a worthy, capable human being.

The physiology of self-criticism and self-compassion and why you should care

The human brain does not work exactly like a computer.

It has a number of different parts working in harmony, and each part has its own role. You need to understand the parts of your mind because they are all important.

Your brain consists of a number of different systems. For example, there is your emotional system, your analytical system, your reasoning system, and your memory system.

All of these systems have different functions, but they also interact with one another.

A negative emotion, such as guilt, will activate the emotional system and the emotional part of your brain, causing you to become more reactive and have a harder time controlling your emotions.

Guilt and self-criticism have a similar effect on the thinking part of the brain. 

When your brain feels threatened, the limbic system activates the thinking system, increasing your stress and decreasing your ability to reason.

Your brain’s analytical system can easily fall prey to the thoughts and feelings of guilt and self-criticism.

When the analytical system goes into overdrive, you start believing all of your thoughts are true. Your brain is constantly judging itself and trying to figure out whether what it thinks is true or false.

The analytical system can also make completely incorrect assumptions. This can lead you down a path of self-criticism, guilt, and shame.

The memory system will recall the past experiences that created your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. These memories may have been inaccurate, misleading, or totally distorted.

Our brains tend to remember negative things more than positive ones. Therefore, when we get the message that we are bad or not good at something, our brain quickly goes to work storing the negative information.

This is why we can have negative thoughts and feelings that we can’t seem to change.

Even though your brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t, you still feel like you’re experiencing something when you’re actually only imagining it.

Your brain is constantly making judgments based on the information you’re receiving. If you are being judged by your brain, you will begin to believe those thoughts and you will feel bad about yourself.

When you feel bad about yourself, your body is affected and you feel bad physically. When you feel bad physically, your brain believes you are in danger and that you need to defend yourself. The brain becomes activated and the analytical system takes over.

How to Turn Self Hatred into self-compassion

Our thoughts and beliefs play an important role in our experience of being in the world.

They affect how we view ourselves and the world around us. And they can also affect our relationships with other people.

If your thoughts are dominated by the belief that you are a terrible person who is doomed to fail, it can lead to feelings of shame and self-hatred. You might even feel suicidal.

In addition, if you hold these beliefs, it becomes hard to accept feedback or guidance from others. Instead of being able to receive their help, you might feel ashamed and feel that you need to do everything on your own, that nobody could possibly understand

To turn self-hatred into self-compassion...

1: Find out the specific reasons why you hate yourself. For example, could it be because you are always failing? Is it because you feel you are annoying to people?

2: Explore these beliefs to determine if they are true or just unjustified biases against yourself that have become second nature.

3: Think about how you would advise or treat a loved one who is thinking these types of thoughts about themselves.

4: Give yourself compassionate advice or encouragement that would help you stop believing these things about yourself. If you notice yourself getting caught up in self-hating thoughts again, it’s time to do some mental work.

5: Use the following sentence as a reminder to replace self-hating thoughts with more compassionate thoughts: “I am worth loving me and accepting myself.”

6: Spend as much time as possible practising compassion toward yourself.

7: If you feel like you are getting angry with yourself, be aware of that thought process. This is your opportunity to use your new self-compassion practice to calm yourself down. If you notice yourself getting caught up in anger, try to use the compassionate words and phrases above.‍

How to use fear and truth to improve your mental health

The fear response is important for your survival because it keeps you safe. In a dangerous situation, you’re going to feel fear—the feeling of danger. You can either act on your fear or let it control you.

The truth response is important, too. The ability to tell the difference between facts and beliefs, reality and imagination, and true threats versus exaggerated threats, can save you from harm.

Both fear and truth help you to survive and thrive. But sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed with fear and need to find ways to turn down the volume. So what can you do?

Self-compassion is a great way to do this. It turns down the volume on the fear response while increasing the volume on the true response. It reduces your rumination and allows you to see the facts—like your anxiety—and know that they are real. It also reduces your self-judgment, which increases your willingness to take action.

But if you have a hard time being self-compassionate, here are some tips.

First, notice your thoughts as they arise. That is, notice them without any judgment or condemnation and accept them for what they are—thoughts. If they are positive, notice that. If they are negative, notice that, too. Just notice them as thoughts, not as facts.

Also, notice how you feel. What is your bodily sensation—the tightness in your chest, the churning in your stomach, the pounding in your head? And notice how you feel emotionally. How does your heart rate increase, or how does your breath speed up? These are indicators that your feelings are changing. That is you’re moving away from your usual emotional experience. Notice these changes and know that you are safe and loved.

And finally, notice what you do. Notice how you respond to your thoughts. Do you talk to yourself, berate yourself, or ignore yourself? If you’re in a negative state, notice how you react. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I were in my best possible self?” If you are in a positive state, notice how you respond. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I were in my best possible self?”

It’s easy to think that you can’t do self-compassion because you’re always busy doing other things. And you can’t always do self-compassion. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be compassionate toward yourself. Self-compassion is about accepting yourself as you are—and it’s not about having no problems. It’s about being compassionate toward your problems, too.

Self-compassion is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice. But it can change your life. When you practice self-compassion, you feel less isolated and more connected to others. It brings you closer to your loved ones. And when you practice self-compassion, you feel more like your old self.

How practising imperfection encourages self-compassion

The poison of perfectionism

In modern society, there’s a culture of being perfect. The idea is that if you aren’t perfect, you’re not worthy. And if you aren’t worthy, you can’t have anything good in your life. It’s a shame culture.

Perfectionism is rooted in feelings of inadequacy, a fear of failure, and an inability to tolerate mistakes. Perfectionism is usually accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, and fear, and can lead to a range of problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and addiction.

The secret of self-compassion is that it offers relief from perfectionism by reminding you that your worth is not based on how you compare to others or your performance. Instead, it’s based on the fact that you are a unique human being. You are valuable just as you are. And as long as you allow yourself to be exactly as you are, you’ll feel more comfortable.

How to break free from perfectionism

Allowing our imperfections to exist is important for living a happy life. Being self-aware of who we really are, and accepting ourselves as we are, is an important part of developing a sense of compassion for ourselves and others.

If we can accept that we are not perfect, and if we accept that we will make mistakes and that these mistakes are inevitable, And that mistakes are not the end of the world, then we can start practising self-compassion for ourselves and others.

In CBT, graded exposure is often used to move away from perfectionism.
To do, use the following steps:

Step 1: Create a list of things you do to avoid making mistakes. These are called safety behaviours as they are things you usually do to keep yourself safe from the repercussion of making mistakes.

Step 2: Once you have your list of safety behaviours, write a list of things that you can do to expose yourself to those behaviours. For example, if one of your safety behaviours is checking your email 20 times before sending it, you decide what to do differently. Maybe check it only 19 times or omit a "t" in a word on purpose.

Step 3: Commit to practise the new behaviours. Each time you engage in the behaviour, write down your thoughts and feelings. Keep track of how you feel and how you respond to the behaviour. This will help you to see how effective the behaviour is at changing your emotions. If it works, keep practising. If it doesn't, look at why you are reacting the way you are and make adjustments accordingly.

Step 4: Gradually increase the frequency and duration of the behaviour. Gradual exposure is like stretching a rubber band; you don’t have to stretch it all the way. Instead, begin by increasing the amount of time you spend exposing yourself to the behaviour until you have increased it to half of the time you normally spend on the behaviour.

After that, increase the amount of time again, until you are exposing yourself to the behaviour all of the time.

The interconnected nature of self-care and self-compassion

Many people believe that they need to keep up with the demands of their day-to-day life and work obligations and that self-care must come second. But the reality is that you need both!

When you don’t put in time to look after yourself, you miss out on experiencing what’s going on inside and outside of you. It’s impossible to do your best work if you’re unwell, worn out, or having a hard time with some aspect of your life.

Sel-compassion encourages you to see self-care as a priority. It says that while you’re working towards becoming healthier, learning to accept and love yourself, and prioritising your own needs, there’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed about it. You can do it. You’re worth it.

The point isn’t to spend your whole life taking care of yourself. You’ll still be living, learning, loving, and doing. You’ll still get things done. It’s just that, if you put in the self-care, you’ll have more energy and vitality to give to others and to your own life.

This means that self-care is essential for your mental health, so that you can do your best work, find meaning in what you do, and lead a happy life. You’ll know that it’s all been worth it when you look back over your life.

Lastly...

Self-Compassion is  your emotional immune system

The human condition is complex and full of challenges. It's easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, or sad when things don't go our way. We all want what's best for ourselves. And if we're not feeling well, it's tough to feel compassionate toward ourselves. But as we build a positive mindset, self-compassion becomes much easier. It's a powerful and necessary tool in pursuing happiness, peace, and healing.

Think of compassion as being kind, gentle, and open-minded to yourself. A genuine desire to understand where you're coming from and how you might be able to find solutions to your challenges. Compassion isn't just about being nice to yourself. It's about understanding the reality of your experience.

Self-compassion means taking a gentle but firm stand against self-judgment, and choosing to give yourself the benefit of the doubt. It Is knowing that you are worthy of love and kindness. And that you can change things for the better.

Self-compassion may seem hard to achieve at first, but the benefits are worth it. Once you have the skills in place to become more compassionate, you'll notice that you'll no longer judge yourself harshly for making mistakes.

You'll feel more motivated to grow and make changes in your life. And you won't just feel better - you'll act better too.

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa
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