What if we could find a way to be kinder to ourselves, especially when things go wrong? What if we could learn to give ourselves the same compassion that we so easily offer others? According to research by Kristin Neff, self-compassion may be the key. Neff defines self-compassion as “extending warmth and understanding to ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flogging ourselves with self-criticism.” In other words, it’s being gentle and supportive towards ourselves in times of difficulty instead of harsh and judgmental. And studies suggest that this approach leads to more happiness, reduced anxiety, and greater emotional resilience. So how can we start cultivating self-compassion in our lives? Here are a few tips:
1) Be mindful of your inner critic. Pay attention to the thoughts and words you use on yourself – are they harsh and judgmental? If so, challenge these thoughts and reframe them with kinder language.
2) Be mindful of your reactions to difficult situations. Rather than automatically reacting with criticism or distress, try pausing for a moment and seeing what compassion might look like in that situation.
3) Cultivate a sense of connectedness. When we feel isolated or alone, it can be hard to be compassionate towards ourselves. But by seeking out relationships with people who support us – both online and offline – we can create an environment where self-compassion is more likely to flourish.
4) Give yourself permission to relax into moments of imperfection. A big part of self-compassion is accepting that we are all fallible human beings – no one is perfect! When you mess up, forgive yourself and move on.