Self-compassion is not something you’ll find we do very often for ourselves. Compassion for others, yes, not so difficult to achieve but when we need to extend it towards ourselves it’s as though we feel we’re being a little selfish or indulging ourselves and that seems unacceptable. But, its not! There is absolutely nothing further from the truth and developing a sense of self-compassion can help you in many areas of your life, including mental health concerns like anxiety or insecurity.
So, what is self-compassion? Well, it’s the ability to show yourself empathy, love and concern in times of difficulty. It’s when you can be kind to yourself and hold back from harsh criticism, when you recognise that you too are human and yes! also, not perfect (just like everyone else). In order to be self-compassionate, you must be caring and kind to yourself and also have a non-judgemental attitude towards your inadequacies and failures just as you would towards a loved one.
Being kind to yourself can mean taking time off to have a break, having positive self-talk, encouraging yourself and forgiving yourself. It’s about understanding that negative situations may happen to you and not allowing yourself to get stuck in them but to view them with balance so that you don’t get carried away with the negative emotions and you can approach the situation more mindfully.
The research that was done on self-compassion was through the use of the Self-Compassion Scale. This was designed to evaluate thoughts, emotions and certain behaviours that are associated with self-compassion. It measures how often people respond to feelings of inadequacy or suffering as well as mindfulness, self-kindness and self-judgement. This particular study was administered to 195 students and here are 4 of the most interesting findings that came out of the research:
People with self-compassion are less likely to be critical of themselves and less likely to be anxious or depressed. This ultimately leads to greater life satisfaction.
People showing self-compassion had a greater desire to succeed after an initial failure and to were motivated to improve
Higher levels of self-compassion showed higher levels of personal growth, body appreciation, purpose in life, sense of responsibility and self-acceptance.
Extending compassion towards yourself helps to increase positivity and focus less on your hardships and obstacles.
As you can see there are some huge benefits to showing self-compassion and a great way to start to nurture self-compassion in your life is through the use of a self-compassion journal. By journaling, you can record the day’s events and note any times you have judged yourself harshly, felt negatively towards something or been through a difficult time. It will allow you to reflect on these times, examine them and why self-compassion would be important for you. It will allow you to acknowledge the fact that you too are human and help you on your path to a sense of well-being.
Self-compassion is not self-indulgent, it is a necessity!
Debra Bragança / Counsellor / Anchoring Your Life
Specialising in Relationships, Anxiety, Depression & Traumatic Life Experiences