In most cases we are not taught to be kind to ourselves. In fact, quite the opposite. Our society often expects that we chastised ourselves, put ourselves down and beat ourselves up for our mistakes.
But as research shows us, this can have a big impact on our mental health.
So if you could do with a dose of self-compassion in your life, follow our 5 steps and you will notice a difference to your wellbeing.
To respond to ourselves compassionately we must be aware that we are struggling and engaging in self-critical thoughts. We must also slow ourselves down and make helpful choices. To slow down, it can help to practice slow breathing and meditation.
It also helps to practice forgiveness and stop punishing yourself for your mistakes. Accept that you are not perfect and be gentle with yourself.
Mindfulness helps to less self-judgment. Strive to be in the moment and aware of what is happening right now, without any judgment. Building your mindfulness practice and combining it with self-acceptance can be helpful. This help to eliminate rumination which is often at the heart of self-criticism.
Develop a Compassionate image
Imagery can be a powerful way to activate feelings within us that can help to soothe us in times of distress. We can activate compassion through the use of imagery. To find out how to do so go to the Centre for Clinical Interventions
Develop compassionate thoughts
Keep a diary that helps you to understand your self critical thoughts. What triggers them? What tone of voice is used? What emotions does it bring up?
Take time to reflect on these self critical thoughts. Ask yourself – what would a friend say about this? How might I feel about this next week? What would my compassionate image have to say about this? What is a more helpful/compassionate way for me to think about this?
Actively choose to do kind things for yourself and to practice self care, especially in times when you are struggling. Know what activities you can do to soothe yourself.
But also take care of problems that are stressful and activating your threat system. Stop avoiding, procrastinating or numbing your feelings and choose to take action.
Now each of these steps is certainly easier said than done. They will take committed practice. Change is not likely overnight. But the more you build your awareness and take active steps to change your self-talk, you will begin to see a difference.
But if you feel as though you have tried these steps and still there is no change, consider seeing a Psychologist. We can help.