How can we build self- compassion?

We spend our entire lives with one person. The journey with this person is guaranteed till the end, in sickness, and in health, through every roadblock and success. Wouldn’t we want to make this relationship a thriving one, considering it is so long-term and constant? Shouldn’t we make every effort to understand this person, what they like, and dislike, how they feel around certain people and situations, how they want to feel loved? Now, what if I told you that this is the relationship that is most often neglected, put on the back burner, almost forgotten, and not given the attention and care it deserves only because this is the relationship we have with ourselves?

While we get so caught up in building romantic relationships and friendships we forget that the most important bond we will ever have is with our own mind and body. The voice in our head is our constant companion and on days we feel alone, it will always be our saving grace. Unfortunately, most people are unable to build a positive relationship with that voice, making it harsh and critical. Any mistake is accounted to being a “bad person”, an action that doesn’t live up to expectations means that “I am not good enough” and a fight with another person adds up to “I am unlovable”. In the long run, these perceptions we hold about ourselves, and our abilities show up in our actions and behavior impacting our well-being and happiness. However, adapting this self- talk to be considerate towards ourselves is not easy because it is often deep-rooted in childhood experiences and beliefs we have learned growing up.

This is where self- compassion comes in. While we have to go down a long and rocky road to change our core values and beliefs, self- compassion is the way to lessen their impact on our lives by being kind and understanding with ourselves. It essentially means giving ourselves the room to make mistakes, while accepting that we are not perfect thereby ridding us of the high expectations we place upon ourselves. In a nutshell, it means to acknowledge our humanness and understand that life may not always go the way we want, we will fall short and err, we will have limitations and there may even be days when we will not be proud of what we have done but all this is just a part of the human experience. Just like us, everyone will have days like this, and understanding that is being compassionate and gentle both with yourself and others. Self- compassion makes you understand that every failure is a chance to improve and grow because your value is not attached to that failure.

So how can one extend compassion towards themselves?

Amending your critical inner voice

It all starts with adapting self- talk. Modifying the way we speak to ourselves is the first step in changing the way we relate to ourselves and challenge the irrational part of our brain.

Becoming aware and catching yourself

Self- awareness is key. Call yourself out when you are too harsh on judging your actions or words. Be quick to put a stop to self- sabotaging thoughts and emotions.

Speak to yourself as you would speak to a friend

This will help you to develop your inner conversations and making your mind a healthy space. While this requires a lot of discipline and breaking years of a self- destructive pattern, it is important to utilize this technique in daily life. When you make a mistake during a big presentation, you are unable to meet a deadline in time, you fail a test, or are unable to pass a job interview, it is in these real moments that you need to remember that failure is a part of the shared human experience and be kind to yourself.

Cut yourself some slack

Giving yourself a break to be “imperfect” will not only help you develop authenticity and trust in who you are and what you want but also make you engage in more self-care and healthy behaviors, forgive yourself more often and have hope in your own potential. In time you will able to understand that your worth is truly innate and not attached to any event or shortcoming while internalizing realistic expectations from yourself.

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