“With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.” – Susan Weiss Berry
Times of Turmoil
In this face-paced world where you can be anywhere in 24 hours, you have a constant stream of world events at your fingertips, and you can never get away from your work. Stress is a constant. According to CDC younger and younger people are suffering from depression and anxiety, with nearly 11% of 12-17-year-old’s and 1 and 5 adults being diagnosed with anxiety or an anxiety disorder. Something has changed in people and the way they live.
I’m not here to argue the finer points of what is causing this. Whether it is the constant connection to technology and everything that comes along with that or war, famine and disease that have become a part of daily life. People, for whatever reason, are struggling now more than ever with their mental health and general satisfaction with their lives.
Fortunately, there is a simple answer accessible to everyone. Self-care and self-compassion.
In a paper Self-Compassion: Conceptualizations, Correlates, & Interventions researchers looked at just how caring for one’s self might benefit them. They said, “we review empirical work on the correlates of self-compassion, demonstrating that self-compassion has consistently been found to be related to well-being.”
The idea of self-compassion as an important part of daily life has been around for thousands of years. One of the first groups to conceptualize this is the Buddhists. They say for a person to be perfect there are two qualities that he should develop equally: compassion on one side, and wisdom on the other. Compassion not only for others, but for oneself.
With both science and spirituality pointing in the same direction, there has to be something to self-compassion.
What is Self-Compassion?
Pulling on the knowledge of Kristin D. Neff Ph.D., self- compassion comprises three basic ideas:
- Self-kindness. Recognizing that we are not perfect and doing away with self-criticism. Loving ourselves and our flaws. Seeing that through our failure there can be growth and new beginnings. Being warm and understanding of ourselves.
- A sense of common humanity. Realizing that we all struggle. When we fail, we irrationally feel like everyone else is perfect. For whatever reason, we feel like everyone else has it easier than we do. This causes feelings of isolation. With self-compassion, you remember that everyone struggles. Part of being human is failure. We are all the same.
- Mindfulness. This by far can be the trickiest. Instinctively we attach emotion to our thoughts. Mindfulness is not over identifying with our thoughts, it is allowing them to be acknowledged, then acted upon with a clear mind. In this way, we don’t get caught up and swept away with a torrent of feelings.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
One of the easiest ways to practice self-compassion is to take a moment to yourself. Whether this is your morning workout or right before bed, take a moment, and recognize your self-worth. Whether you’re a mother, father, brother, or a daughter, you mean something to someone.
Another practice to implement is to take it easy on ourselves. No one is perfect and we all have limitations. This can be difficult when constantly surrounded by social media, so another practice you can implement is sleeping with your phone in a different room. It’s harder to be critical of yourself if you have nothing to compare you to.
Finally, try to change your perspective on things. Every negative can be positive just as easily as every positive can be negative. Think in a way that is motivating rather than discouraging.