Self-compassion: how to be kind to yourself?

 Many of us have been, at one point in our lives, tormented by criticism, browbeating, humiliation, indignity, etc. These circumstances are parallel to bullies and critics making our existence miserable and sucking the life out of us thus rendering us weary. What if that 'bully' in your life is your own self? Have you ever contemplated that it is you that's making your life tougher? As rightly stated by Debasish Mridha, "you are your best friend and worst enemy".

In this article, we shall learn about the power of Self-compassion and how to practice it. 

How are you making your life tougher?

Sometimes the hitch with our lives is our own mind and our thought process. We are being harsh to ourselves by indulging in negative self-talk, self-criticism, self-reproach, self-doubt, etc. When things don't work out as expected, plans fail, grades come down, opportunities are lost, expectations are not lived up to, etc we end up getting stuck in the negatives. We often say mean things to ourselves like, "I'm such a loser", "I embarrassed myself", "No one will ever love me", "I can't do it", "I'm an imbecile", etc.
This kind of negative talk makes you feel helpless, stressed, and depressed. If this persists, over time you deny yourself the love and affection you deserve from others and from your own self. You isolate yourself from the world. You cease to care for yourself. In extreme cases, there have been reports of inflicting physical harm to one's own self. This is diabolical. For, it vitiates your mind with pessimistic thoughts and disturbs your natural harmony. And this is something that can't be ignored.

Hopefully, there's always a cure. And this is where self-compassion enters the play

What is Self-compassion?

"Self-compassion is nurturing yourself with all the kindness and love you would shower on someone you cherish", said Dr.Debra Reble. It means being aware of your thoughts and emotions and giving yourself what you want. When it is about loving others, we bestow on them tonnes of love. When it comes to love and care for ourselves, we tend to be so niggardly. (Of course, there are loads of selfish people. But this isn't about them.) Isn't it ironic? The Latin roots of the word, 'Compassion' means 'to suffer with'. Self-compassion is being kind to yourself and fostering the care you need. It's simply about loving yourself.

Having discussed that let's move ahead.

How to practice Self-compassion?

As humans, we inherited some traits which make us human. Love and compassion are among them. Therefore, it shouldn't be that difficult for us to revive our compassion for ourselves. Be patient and incorporate the below-mentioned ways into your lifestyle. You will definitely notice positive changes.

1. Acceptance

The most significant step is acceptance of yourself. You don't have to be someone you are not. Remember that nobody is perfect in life. Though you are not perfect, you are beautiful. For, you are unique. So is everyone. 
Befriend yourself. Love yourself and your ambiance. Focus on improving your relations with your loved ones. For, people who have strong, happy relations are the actually happy ones. 
Accept yourself, your flaws, your strengths, your life, and everything about it. Joseph Campbell rightly stated, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are". In this process, you might face rejection. Do not be afraid. Stay strong and carry on. 

2. Ignoring the self-critic

 After all, your brain is yours. It belongs to you. Which means you can control it even though it's a tad bit tough. Try altering your statements from I am nothing to I can be something,  No one loves me to my love for myself is more than enough. Don't be too harsh on yourself. Learn to forgive yourself. Practice meditation to tap into real peace. Sit in a comfortable position, with an erect spine, and practice normal breathing. As you breathe, focus on your breath alone and leave no room for distractions. According to Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, meditation is the medicine for human beings to be happy as it activates the happiness gene present in the left pre-frontal lobes. 

3. Practice Mindfulness

Understand that it's natural to feel bad. Instead of feeling bad thinking of other things, be present in this moment. Be aware of your senses. Mindfulness can elevate your happiness. There are many ways to practice this.

(a) Reading books

Reading books, magazines, journals, stories, or any kind of material, in that case, makes you focus on the present moment. It enables improved concentration and keen insight. Moreover, it's scientifically proven that reading can help you cope with mental disorders and trauma.

(b) Listening to music

It's probably the best way to practice mindfulness. Everybody loves music. Both listening or playing musical instruments helps elevate your mood. You can listen to any kind of genre of your desire. The notes and frequency of some forms of music calm your mind.

(c) Art

Drawing, Painting, Crafting, Quilling, etc are not mere hobbies. Many practitioners employ these methods in treating patients suffering from mental disorders.

4. Aim for progress, not perfection

Aiming for progress rather than perfection is the right attitude. Perfection is a flawed concept. There is no person alive who is 100% perfect. We all have imperfections. And there's nothing bad about it. Celebrate your failures. Embrace your flaws. Endeavor to progress. And enjoy every moment of the journey. For, life doesn't necessarily guarantee you a tomorrow. 

"You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection"

         - BUDDHA

5. Self-development

Being kind to yourself doesn't mean being lazy sitting on the couch, eating fries, and binge-watching. Work on yourself. Work on improving your skills and capabilities. Work hard to reach your goals. Exercise regularly. Make yourself healthy and fit. Meditate to improve your mental health. Most importantly, take a healthy, balanced diet. Only when you are fit, physically and mentally, you achieve happiness and peace. Try to become the best version of yourself. Rise above your potential and keep working.

Self-compassion Affirmations

Affirmations have a different kind of impact on our brain. When you say these out loud to yourself, your brain's reward system gets activated, and these self-compassion affirmations have a positive effect on the way you think. It's a fact that has been strongly established by Psychology. Given below, are just basic examples, suggested by Louise Hay. You can always alter them to your convenience or create your own affirmations. It's up to you. This might seem stupid to stupid people. Don't mind them. 

1. I forgive myself and accept my flaws because nobody is perfect.
2. I deserve compassion, tenderness, and empathy from myself.
3. I am free to let go of other's judgments.
4. Change is never simple. But, it's easier if I stop being hard on myself.
5. I accept the best and worst parts of who I am.

How does Self-compassion improve your mental health?

Self-compassion improves your mental health by boosting your self-esteem, improving your confidence, and leaving no room for regrets. In her book Self-compassion, Kristin Neff, self-compassion expert and associate professor of human development at the University of Texas writes, "The more self-compassionate vs self-critical that people were, the lower their cortisol levels and higher their heart variability". 

Finally concluding.....

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Be kind to yourself, others, trees, animals, and nature.
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