Self-compassion is having the ability to completely accept who we are. It’s about accepting our strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. It’s about accepting our bodies, our thoughts, and our feelings. So why is this so important? Without self-compassion it is difficult to be happy, feel confident, and to love others.
These are the benefits of having self-compassion
• Improves our relationships with others
• Decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety and allows us to have more positive emotions
• Improves our self-esteem
• Improves our body image
• Allows us to practice mindfulness skills effectively
Ways to develop self-compassion
1. Developing ways to be able to observe yourself is a big step towards finding self-compassion. This might look like stepping back and observing the different parts of ourselves. Typically, we have many different parts that make up our “self”. These parts might be younger parts of ourselves, parts that carry strong emotions (angry, sad, scared, etc), parts that desire different things (love, attention, alone time, etc). Taking a look at each of your parts and gaining a better understanding of the purpose they serve, what they want, what they are afraid of, and how they interact with other parts provides a different perspective about who we are. Developing a feeling of compassion towards each of our parts can help us to better understand who we are and what we really want and need. For more information about how to develop these skills check out https://www.selfleadership.org
2. Another important aspect of having self-compassion is accepting your body and being able to own all of our body parts. Accepting all of our feelings and our sensations. Some ways to help accomplish this is through doing things like yoga and other body centered movement. Being able to recognize all of the different things your body allows you to do (arms to hug someone, legs to walk your dog, fingers to sign your name, etc). Another way to help cultivate accepting our body is through listening to our body. What is our body telling you and what does it need? What physical sensations are you feeling? Learning a technique like tapping (or emotional freedom technique) can allow you to focus in on your body. For more information about how to do this skill you can go to https://www.thetappingsolution.com
3. Living a life that is in line with our values. Being able to identify what things are the most important to us and striving to make those things a priority. Living in accordance to our values makes us feel more successful, calm, and happy. There are multiple websites that have quizzes you can do to help you identify what you value most. Think about your career. How did you choose that career? Hopefully it had some connection to the things you value (financial resources, making an impact, being creative, etc). Do the same thing when you think about who you chose to be your partner and your friends. Think about the things that are important to you.
4. Being aware of how we think about ourselves, the world, and others. Being able to recognize when we are stuck with negative thoughts and countering these thoughts with more positive/rational thoughts. Notice when you say things that are all or none like, “no one likes me”. Is that thought true? Can you think of someone who has liked you? If you can, then you have evidence to support that people or someone does like you! Another trick that has been helpful for me has been to think about this exercise. Look around the room right now and count all of the blue things you see. Now close your eyes and tell me how many red things did you count? Confused? Yes, it’s very hard to see the happy red things when are focused on counting (looking for) the blue negative things! Try to make a conscious effort to look for some of the things you are grateful for and make note of them.
5. Stop beating ourselves up and stop allowing others’ to beat us up! Learn to respect yourself (your body, values, thoughts, and feelings) and others. Try to notice when you are judging yourself (“I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I did that!”) and change that thought to be more accurate about what happened (“I didn’t prepare enough for that presentation and didn’t do as well as I would have liked.”). Set boundaries by being assertive and saying, “No” when you need to. Learn how to be responsible for yourself and for your decisions. Don’t play the role of victim. Advocate for yourself. If you want more information about how to learn about these skills you can go to http://www.dbtselfhelp.com
Tonya McFarland, PsyD, LP, CEDS
Certified Eating Disorder Specialist
1030 Johnson Rd, #323
Golden, CO 80401