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Change Your Life with Self-Compassion

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.
Christopher K. Germer

In these challenging times, now more than ever, we need to demonstrate compassion for ourselves.

Self-compassion is not something we talk about a lot, or even practise and that’s because a lot of people aren’t too sure what self-compassion looks like. Self-compassion is being kind, caring and accepting of ourselves. It is accepting our humanity and that we make mistakes. It is accepting our limitations and allowing time and space to meet our own needs.

Most of us do okay when it comes to caring for others, but when it comes to caring for ourselves, our expectations of ourselves, often make life more stressful than it needs to be. A lack of self-compassion can lead to anxiety and depression.

Research has indicated that people who are self-compassionate are less likely to experience burnout and overall, they are happier, more grateful, and able to make a difference in the world.

When we feel ‘stuck’, as many people feel right now, it’s easy to get caught up in thoughts that this shouldn’t be happening to us. We appear to be a society that has been conditioned to believe we should endlessly be making progress, even if we are unsure of the destination we are heading towards. So, when we judge ourselves for remaining ‘stuck’, we perpetuate the cycle of stress.

The way out of that cycle is through mindfulness and meditation.

I’ve recently been revising all of my course material, and I have realised that I teach mindfulness and meditation, because it is what I most need to learn. I am so proactive that at times I take ‘doing’ to extremes. When I am stressed, I often feel as if I need to do more to make the world a better place. Being still reminds me that my purpose is not to save the world, it is to be the best me I can be.

Self-compassion is not self-pity. Self-pity is feeling sorry for yourself. It’s a state of powerlessness that only makes you feel worse about yourself and your life. Self-compassion is recognising your flaws, acknowledging habits that don’t support you, and making time to do things that you love.

Some easy ways to demonstrate self-compassion are to:

Forgive yourself. This isn’t something to do only when you’ve made a mistake, it’s something that benefits you when practised daily. By reflecting at the end of each day, you will usually find there is something you can forgive yourself for.

Challenge your thoughts. Whenever you find yourself feeling stressed observe what you are thinking about. You’ll often find your rules are in control. You recognise rules by listening to how often you say should, must and have to. Rules can make life unnecessarily hard for yourself.

Check if you are being overly generous. Being generous is a great trait but when you start giving because you feel you ‘should’, it disempowers you. If you have a tendency to do too much for others consider giving in 5 minute chunks, this means that you give to others in ways that take no more than 5 minutes at a time.

Be mindful. This enables you to be aware. To enjoy the moment.

Self-Compassion opens our hearts, it is where love begins.