The Practice of Self-Compassion

How often have you shown compassion to others, but not towards yourself? When we see someone else suffering, most of us respond with an act of kindness. Yet, when it comes to our own struggles, we don’t always show ourselves that same grace. Rather, we might criticize and blame ourselves instead of having self-compassion. One example of this could be our mindset about the appearance of our skin, which may be imperfect. So, perhaps we can be more gentle with ourselves about our skin.

The definition of self-compassion is treating yourself with kindness and acceptance when responding to challenges or perceived failures.

There are three components of self-compassion:

  1. Self-kindness – this is responding to disappointments with acceptance, understanding and patience, rather than judgment

  2. Common humanity – this is the view that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect, which minimizes the feeling of isolation

  3. Mindfulness - this is having a balanced awareness of negative feelings, but not becoming immersed in the negativity

Research shows that having self-compassion doesn’t only reduce stress, but it’s also associated with better physical health.

One approach to cultivating a practice of self-compassion is to answer the following question. What would you say to dear friends if they were facing the same life challenge? Then, apply the response to that question to yourself. This intention is something that could be practiced daily, which over time would become an automatic habit. Self-compassion is an important element of self-care, as it’s a way to love yourself.

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