What is self compassion and why should I practice it?
Updated: Feb 25
Self compassion is defined as extending compassion to oneself in instances of perceived inadequacy or general suffering.
Self compassion looks like being kind and understanding to ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate. It looks like talking to yourself and encouraging yourself like you would a friend, loved one or child.
When you find yourself down in the dumps because someone rejected you, something did not work out the way you wanted it to or perhaps you tried something new and failed. Instead of beating yourself up and talking to yourself in a way that would never talk to another human being you try something different. You try being kind to yourself. You try getting curious with yourself and being non judgemental.
What I have known most of my life is self hate. What did this look like for me? I could not look at myself in the mirror and when I did it was negative-I could not see myself through a clear lens. I never saw a picture of myself and thought “oh, she’s cute.” I do now though and it feels great!
What I saw was jaded by false beliefs that I developed throughout my life. I have always had this natural ability to find something I did not like about myself. I would look in the mirror, wrinkle my face and say internally “Your skin is so white, it is fluorescent and that cellulite. Barf.” “Look at those wrinkles, you look so old.”
I have also struggled in the past with not thinking I was smart enough, that due to my strong southern accent no one would take me seriously. I would not speak in large groups and I would have never gone live on any social media platform. The old me would have said “Nobody wants to hear what you have to say” “You are weird and your thinking is different” Turns out I was wrong.
How do you apply self compassion to these types of negative, self deprecating thoughts?
Awareness of the thought is the first step. Just noticing the thoughts you are having is such a powerful step.
Then getting curious about the thoughts. Below is an example of the dialogue that I would have with myself when I am challenging and getting curious about a thought:
Do I really believe my skin is fluorescent? Well, it is pretty bright in the sun… But is it fluorescent? No. Because your skin is bright in the sun and may look different than the majority of people you see, does that actually mean there is anything wrong with it? No. Did perhaps someone in the past tell you your skin was to white? Yes, did you accept their belief as your truth? Yes. Do you want to bring that belief forward or would you like to challenge it? Challenge it. Do you think your skin is ugly? No. It could use some TLC , moisturizer but it is not ugly. When you look at others people with skin similar to yours do you think its ugly? No. So the next time you have a thought like “my skin is to white” what are you going to say? I am going to question it. Is that true? No. What can I think that may be a kinder thought? I can start to take care of my skin, I can say nice things about my skin and I can practice being grateful for my skin. It is the largest organ on my body and it helps protect all my vital organs.
I am relatively new to self compassion (past few years) but it has had a significant and positive impact on my life. It has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. It has given me the courage to face fears and helped me improve my self confidence. I believe this has happened because I am no longer taking myself so seriously. I am accepting and loving myself flaws and all. I understand that I am not for everyone and I no longer look to others to determine my value or worth. I look to myself.
How do I remember to use self compassion? I have affirmations written on my mirror in the bathroom. I start my day by saying positive words to myself. I have sticky notes and reminders on my phone. Overtime, with consistent practice noticing the negative thoughts and questioning them has become a habit. There are times when you may forget or fail. That is okay, normal and part of the process. Just pick yourself up and try again.
Below is a link to a website full of free resources an information regarding self compassion:
You can overcome this, you can learn to parent yourself and treat yourself with kindness. I promise!
I hope this has been helpful for you and that one year from now you reflect and see for yourself the power of self compassion, affirmations and consistency. You got this! ~Katie Creel