Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself


Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself

Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself

Christopher K. Germer is quoted to be saying “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life”. When it comes to others, quite often, we shower them with love and care. But when it comes it self-love, many of us kind of dilly-dally and be not so generous. Very often, the hitch with our lives is our own critical mind and our self-destructive thought process.

In this article, ‘Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself’, we shall look into what self-compassion is and how it can be cultivated or improved to live the best version of yourself. We shall mainly explore 12 proven ways to be kind to yourself.

Stop being too harsh on 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 that make our existence miserable and suck the life out of us, rendering us dull and 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".

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 this", "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. Before we get into the core of this article, ‘Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself’, let us first define the term ‘self-compassion’ properly.

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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. 

Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself

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". 

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. In this section, we shall explore 12 proven ways to be kind to yourself.  

1. Never expect things

William Shakespeare rightly said, "Expectation is the root of all heartaches". Expecting things from people and situations is like throwing a stone up in the air. What happens next? 

It hits you back. The higher you throw the stone, the harder it hits. The same is the case with expectations.

What can be done?

It's quite simple. Detach yourself from expectations. When you don't have any expectations, you won't experience any pain. Easy. Isn't it?

Trust me, it's not as easy as it sounds. How can you possibly detach yourself from expectations? We are human beings, after all. It would be ironic to say that you should detach from them.

In fact, the thought of not having expectations is also an expectation. There's no human being alive on this planet with absolutely zero expectations. 

What could be done is learning to accept. Accept that IT'S OKAY to have expectations and IT'S OKAY if they aren't lived up to. Stop making such a fuss out of it. Learn to accept that it's fine. Very rarely do people and things fulfill our expectations. Learn to forgive and to let go.

Let us perform a simple task. Take a glass and fill it with water. Now stretch your arm and hold the glass as long as you can.

For the first few seconds, everything seems fine. Over the next few, your arm starts to ache. Then over time, the pain increases. If you hold on to it for much longer, your hand will become numb.

This is exactly the same with expectations. When you think of it for a while and then let go, it wouldn't be much of a trouble. But the longer you hold onto it, the worse it gets.

Forgiveness is the trait of the brave. When you master it, you will feel a sense of inner tranquility. And once it becomes a part of your life, nothing feels the same. Everything changes for the better.

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2. Be grateful for what you are blessed with

You don't realize the importance of things until you lose them. You never realize the significance of a person in your life, until they become a mere memory.

We take things for granted. We ignore everything we are blessed with and crave unimportant and materialistic things.  STOP DOING THAT!!!

Everything in this universe, from the microscopic atom to the gigantic mountain, has two shades. A darker one and a bright one. 

Unhinge yourself from your ungratefulness and start looking at the brighter side of things. Many people wrestle and hustle hard to utter the word, 'Thank you'. If you are one of them, firstly learn to say, 'thank you'. 

Give thanks for your life, for this moment, for opportunities, for sound health, for food, and for your breath. Give thanks for the happiness and failures in life. Also be grateful for love, dejection, troubles, and hard times. For, they help you grow. Also, give thanks for everything you take for granted.

Gratitude makes you realize the significance of life. It makes your mind immaculately perfect opening doorways to enlightenment.

3. Make peace with yourself.

Whenever we talk about ways to deal with criticism, we refer to the judgments and opinions of others.

But, the bitter truth is that you are your biggest critic. And moreover, you keep affirming this by saying negative things to yourself like 'I  can't', 'I'm not good enough' etc

First of all, erase these negative words and phrases from your vocabulary. And say positive things like, 'It's tough but possible', 'I might fail a thousand times. But I'll fight'. Don't hesitate to do this. Focus on the positive.

Don't be too tough on yourself. Be kind and affectionate to yourself. Build your confidence. Hone your skills. Don't ever underestimate your capabilities.

Be balanced. Life is supposed to be a mishmash of all sorts of things. There should be fun and there should be seriousness too. Otherwise, it'd be humdrum and not worth living. Hannah Mc. Carty rightly said, "It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you are not".

4. Find out the purpose of your life.

The hitch with our lives is that we are not sure of what we want. Figure it out first. What is it that you want? When you know it, half of your problems will be solved automatically.

Ask yourself these questions.

Who am I? What do I want from my life? How do I want my life to be? What should I do to live my dream life? Why do I want it?

This is the first step in finding out your purpose. When you know yourself, you'll have better vision and clarity. And you'd never be stuck.

Discover yourself. And how exactly are you supposed to do that? The answer is known to you and you alone. For, nobody knows you better than yourself. Don't forget the details of your past. Because it's the best teacher and it will aid you in this journey.

Find your purpose and head toward it. There are so many sources that can guide you. Literally. For instance, Amazon lists 151,928 books that refer to finding your life's purpose. Trust the proper guide. And keep going on and on.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is the primal step in unleashing love and finding happiness. We all have our strengths and flaws. While some flaws can be set right, the others can't be. It's okay. It's alright. It's fine to have flaws. For, nobody is perfect.

Aim for development, not perfection. In fact, perfection is just a hypothetical concept. As there is always scope for betterment, knowledge is infinite.

Love your flaws. And portray your true self ostentatiously. For, on the last day of your life, when you look back, you'd laugh at your follies for making those things matter that actually doesn't.

Don't live your life pleasing others. You decide what defines you. Don't let others do it for you. For, you are the master of your sail. And the complete responsibility rests on your shoulders. As the saying goes, love the life you live. Live the life you love.

(RELATED: How to practice mindfulness? 6 Practical ways to be Mindful)

6. Hope for the best

Just as your body needs food, your soul needs hope. It can make the impossible turn possible. In our childhood, we are taught to pray. The prayer reflects hope. Our parents and elders instill in us, a sense of hope through the concept of prayer.

Hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better. And today is not forever. Just as this moment, today is also evanescent. Remember, this is not the end of the world. It definitely feels tough and tiring. All you need is hope to hang in there.

As the saying goes, this too shall pass. And the future holds frabjous surprises for you. Even a diamond needs to be ground, to display its pomp and grandeur. 

Acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal said in an interview, "He(the attacker) threw acid on my face. Not on my dreams". Hope was the path that led her to light. It's not easy but it's not impossible either. Try with all your might and make it count. Make it happen.

7. Don't let JAFESSA overtake you.

Before you jump to conclusions, JAFESSA stands for Jealousy, Anger, Frustration, Envy, Stress, Selfishness, and Anxiety. 

Don't let these negative emotions win over you. Stop judging people around you. Be compassionate towards your fellow beings. Don't be selfish. For, it makes you greedy and egocentric. Respect others even though they don't deserve it. For, it's not a reflection of their character, but it reflects your personality. The world we live in is like a mirror. If you smile, it smiles as well. 

Of course, there is injustice prevalent in our society. But that doesn't rule out the existence of the good. Here's a short story about seeing the brighter side.

There was an old woman who lived in the countryside. Her son and granddaughter paid a visit to her. Her granddaughter was adorable and she had two apples held in her hands, one green one and the other, the red one. Grandma asked the girl if she would give her an apple. 

As soon as Grandma uttered those words, the young girl bit both the apples at once. Grandma was raged. She was unhappy with the girl's selfish behavior. Just when she was about to leave, the young girl runs toward her and says, "Grandma, take this one. This is sweeter than the other one".

The old woman was astounded and ashamed too, for judging the young girl without thinking rightly.

8. Eat. Sleep. Exercise.

There's a strong connection between physical and mental health. Your system won't function properly if the connection deteriorates. 

Eat healthy, nutritious food. Try to avoid junk food. Don't eat too much or too little. Maintain moderation.

Sleep well. An average human being needs 6-8 hours of sleep. 

Don't forget to exercise. Work out for at least twenty minutes. It boosts all functions in your body.

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9. 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. 

10. 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. 

11. 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.

12. 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.

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.


Concluding: ‘Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself’

 We may fight for a million things. But ultimately, it is happiness that we all seek and desire. Nothing in life is worth it if you aren't happy. Being happy or not, is a choice. A choice that you make for yourself. 

I hope my article, ‘Self-compassion: 12 Proven ways to be kind to yourself’, is of assistance. Subscribe to my newsletter to get all updates delivered straight into your inbox.



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