How to practise self-compassion: 3 exercises for your mental massage
When was the last time you gave yourself approval? Chances are when your close friends have difficulties, you're probably very supportive. In contrast, we tend to be harsh to ourselves when we make mistakes or fail to accomplish certain goals we set for ourselves. Why is it so difficult to give ourselves the same kindness that we meet others with?
Today, we share 3 exercises with you to practise exactly this - self-compassion.
What is self-compassion?
Let’s start at the beginning. What does self-compassion mean? Researcher Kristin Neff who focused her entire research career on understanding this concept defines it as “being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.”
So in other words, self-compassion simply means…
…being kind to yourself
…understanding that all humans suffer
…and embracing your own pain when you feel it
3 simple exercises for self-compassion:
Now that we understand what self-compassion is, let’s take a look at how you can practice it:
1. Stop criticizing yourself
When your friends suffer from failure, do you encourage them to have another try? Of course, you do! You should meet yourself with the same attitude! Be your own cheerleader motivating yourself to get up when you fall. Remember, we are all imperfect. When reality hits you, give yourself compassion instead of criticism.
Tip: When you are suffering, try to look at yourself with the eyes of a good friend and write down something you’re proud of today.
2. Recognise that you are suffering
When reality doesn’t go as planned, what is your default coping mechanism? Do you fight your feelings or ignore reality? Being vulnerable is part of being a human, and being imperfect is the process of moving towards perfection. When you are able to recognise that suffering is inevitable, you can eventually give yourself sympathy and compassion.
Tip: Taking care of your pain is nothing different from taking care of your skin or health. When you are suffering, your medicine is simply to forgive yourself. Face your feelings and understand why the situation frustrates you.
3. Don’t exaggerate your feelings and overthink
When you are feeling fragile or inadequate, do you catch yourself overthinking what you could have done better again and again? Rumination is a very common phenomenon, as our thoughts naturally spiral towards the things we regret or are ashamed of. When you notice this feeling, the best strategy is to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, and everyone is imperfect. Instead of identifying with your failure, identify with your learnings. The only way to improve is to acknowledge our mistakes but forgive ourselves enough to be ready to try again.
Tip: Break down your problems and slowly find a balanced approach. Write down what exactly makes you feel bad or anxious. Stop thinking of the mistake itself and focus on the steps towards the solution to make things better.
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