We’ve all had them, those moments where something goes wrong, and we’re wholly unkind to ourselves and lack having self-compassion.
Maybe you’re late to pick up your child, or you forgot someone’s birthday, or something else (an event, an appointment) completely slips your mind.
Or, you fail a test you should have passed or didn’t get the job you wanted. Rather than shrugging it off, we instead choose to shame ourselves for not being able to remember, get things right, or perform.
But here’s the thing: it happens; it’s normal. You are human. And pretending otherwise can take you to places that don’t support your learning and growth.
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What Can You Do Instead In Those Moments?
When your world seems to be crumbling, and there doesn’t seem to be comfort or relief?
We can learn to practice self-compassion.
Essentially, self-compassion is when we are kind to ourselves. And not just because it’s a good idea; self-compassion has a basis in neurobiology and taps into our biological, primal caregiving system.
Rather than focusing on our perceived inadequacies, failures, and suffering, we instead choose to give ourselves compassion and grace in our different daily scenarios. The self-talk we use and how we narrate our lives can have a significant impact on our ability to handle the challenges of our days.
Is it easy? Absolutely not, but awareness, practice, time, and a supportive online therapist can move our self-compassion and grace to a more generous place.
Here are at least three ways you can get started on this journey. These strategies can assist in amping up your self-compassion reservoir to boost self-esteem and lead forward with self-confidence.
Be Comforting and Kind To Your Body
It sounds like a no-brainer, but when we’re hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up mentally, it can always be helpful to ground into our bodies. Breathing in confidence, and breathing out the could, should, and would help us to find ourselves back in our bodies. While focusing on our bodies, we can give our brains a break.
Can you get a massage? Can you write a love letter to your body? Can you sit quietly, meditate, and feel your power? Anything that will help you realize the magic that is you and get further into your body will help you to let go of self-destructive thinking. We learn self-compassion and how to support ourselves in some of these difficult moments. Learning to bring yourself back to your most essential you can provide comfort and peace.
Take Space for More Self-Compassion
Often, when our brains are in the midst of something challenging, we continually ruminate and spin on our faults. What if we just simply stopped? While it might be easier said than done, especially in fight or flight situations, taking space can help us get the perspective that might be missing.
We can take physical space and walk away from a situation or go on a walk to process events. And we can also give our brains a break and practice self-compassion by loving ourselves (with our many flaws!), listening deeply, turning inwards, and tuning out the chatter that often steps in when we’re being unkind to ourselves. Shutting off our brains, taking space, and filling our minds with empowering (or any) kinds of thoughts can help us get to a space of self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and self-love.
Share With Others
As we know, nurturing relationships are key to a full and healthy life. When we’re hard on ourselves, we’re both the giver and the receiver of harm. How can we change this pattern? Share your woes with someone else, or even write them down. By bringing your mistakes and missteps into the light, we often see that they’re not as scary or bad as we make them out to be. Beating yourself up is hard work.
When we bring others in the ring, so to speak, we’re seeing our behaviors and thinking reflected back to us, allowing us to make healthier decisions about our situations. Learning self-kindness and forgiveness is a positive step in practicing self-compassion. We learn boundaries in all areas of our lives; discovering and setting self-boundaries takes practice, too. When our best friends, partners, and kids, are gentle with us, we can learn to be gentle with ourselves.
Learning to have more self-compassion takes time.
Being kind to ourselves can be hard, but it is possible. Thankfully, there are many resources that can help you be unapologetically, and authentically you. Taking space, confiding in friends, and finding peace and comfort in ourselves are small steps. Meeting with a supportive online therapist to help stop the shame and self-criticism cycle can help, too. Sometimes, we need to learn to treat ourselves with as much grace and kindness as we treat others. Cultivating strong self-compassion, with practice and self-love, will help you hold yourself in the highest regard.
- Stop Chasing Self-Esteem and Start Developing Self Compassion
- How to Practice Self-Compassion: 8 Techniques and Tips
- 10 Powerful Tips You Can Use to Practice Self-Compassion
Lindsey Ferris, MS, LMFTA, Washington State