13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is the purest form of self-love. Be real with yourself… are you practicing it everyday?
Unfortunately, self-compassion is a foreign concept to a lot of people. We’ve all experienced moments in life when we feel discouraged, rejected or less than. When this happens, a lot of people spend more time and energy tearing themselves down instead of lifting themselves up.
Can you relate?
If you don’t show yourself love, you cannot expect others to show you love either. It’s that simple.
The problem lies in peoples’ misunderstanding of what self-compassion is.
Being self-compassionate doesn’t mean that someone is selfish or arrogant. Research proves quite the opposite. Psychologist Kristin Neff was the first person to measure and operationally define the term “self-compassion.” She describes it as “kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle, supportive, and understanding. “
Simply put, self-compassion is about giving the same kindness to yourself that you so freely give to everyone else.
When you get knocked down by life, I believe that self-compassion is the fire that helps you build resilience and rise above your circumstances.
Psychologists are finding that self-compassion may be the most important life skill, imparting resilience, courage, energy and creativity.
The question is… if self-compassion is so good for us, then why is it such a hard sell for so many people?
When you decide to open yourself to self-compassion, you also open your heart. This can be both a beautiful and painful process, depending on the types of wounds that you carry.
Self-compassion is an inside job, meaning that it’s up to you to learn how to honor and be accepting of your imperfections. Perfect is a lie that we’ve been sold by society. Nobody is perfect and that’s okay.
If you think all of the work that you’re doing is supposed to produce a PERFECT result, it’s time to give up that story. It’s your flaws and imperfections that make you beautiful.
Once you’ve learned how to fully embrace self-compassion, you begin to see yourself and the world differently.
No matter how tough it may seem to turn it around, here are 13 simple habits that you can incorporate into your daily life that will help you cultivate more self-compassion.
1. Re-Evaluate Your Self-Talk
Self-talk is something that we all do throughout the day. Do you talk yourself up or put yourself down? I know that I can be my own worst critic at times. This shame-based self-image has negatively affected many of my past choices in life.
One of the best ways to transition away from negative self-talk is to actively developing self-compassion.
Would you talk to yourself like you would to your best friend? If the answer is no, it’s time to shift your self-talk to one that is more empowering.
Positive self-talk has been linked with health benefits including greater life satisfaction, increased vitality, and less stress, among other things.
Work towards recognizing when you’re participating in negative self-talk and make an effort to change your internal dialogue. Instead of focusing on the negative, celebrate yourself and how far you’ve come.
2. Forgive Yourself
What are you continuing to punish yourself for? I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to carry around this painful emotional state for one day longer.
When you hold onto guilt like a double-edged sword, it is impossible to move forward in life. The answer is to forgive yourself.
Mistakes happen. It’s okay. Self-forgiveness requires that you be gentle with yourself.
More importantly, always remember that mistakes are simply a part of being human. It’s how you learn, grow and become more.
In the words of Melanie Koulouris,
“There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past. Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go.”
3. Date Yourself
Have you ever held back from doing something because you couldn’t find anyone to do it with you? I like to take myself out on dates on a regular basis.
If you think you need someone else to have a good time, you’re wrong. Spending quality time alone is one of the best ways to connect with and deepen your relationship with yourself.
If you’ve been accustomed to being around people all of the time, spending time alone will be an adjustment.
Yes, it will feel uncomfortable at first, but that just means you’re doing something right.
By nature, we are social creatures. However, research is showing that solitude is just as importance as connection with others. The ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management: When You Start to Enjoy Being Alone, These 10 Things Will Happen
The relationship that you have with yourself is the most important relationship that you will ever have so it’s critical that you nurture it.
4. Embrace Failure
Do you ruminate on your failures instead of celebrate your strengths? If so, you’re not alone. Research shows that our innate negativity bias drives us to attend far more to our failures and dwell on our deficiencies.
We’ve all failed at something, and chances are that we’re all going to fail many more times throughout our lives. However, some people allow their failures to define who they are, to the point where they stay stuck in one place.
A little self-compassion can go a long way. In my experience, I’ve learned that knowledge always comes at a price.
If you don’t try and experiment with new things, you’ll never know what you are capable of achieving. Take it from Thomas Edison who once said,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
If you aren’t willing to do what most won’t do, you will never fulfil your true potential. It’s just a fact.
The next time that you fail at something, replace suffering with kindness. Evaluate what went wrong, celebrate what you did right, and learn from your mistakes.
Where there is no growth, there is only stale and stuck energy. In my opinion, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. However, if can learn how to navigate your way through the mess of life with grace and ease, you’re winning.
5. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
When nothing is going right in life, it’s easy to get down yourself, or to blame the world for your problems. However, what would happen if you saw everything as a gift, even the worst of things? Hear me out.
Your mindset determines your reality. If you have a negative outlook and believe that the world is out to get you, you will attract that energy into your life. Conversely, if you believe that the Universe wants you to thrive, it will be much easier for your to find the resources that are needed in order to achieve your goals.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude allows you to reshape your life in a way that makes you happier and more fulfilled. Not only will you feel more thankful for the people in your life, but also for yourself and how far you’ve come.
Gratitude is the channel through which you are able to experience a greater degree of compassion, both for yourself, others and the world at large.
What are you grateful for? Here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For. Feel into it and remind yourself of it everyday.
6. Surround Yourself with Positive People
You become who you surround yourself with, which is why you must choose your people wisely.
Do your friends put you down or lift you up? If it’s the former, I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to find new friends.
If you surround yourself with people who bring out the worst in you, your life will follow suit.
Only spend time with people who see the best in you and who encourage you to live your best life. Your success in life depends on it. At the same time, show up as a compassionate friend to others.
7. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
To whom do you compare yourself to? Social comparison is the tendency to evaluate yourself against others. We all do this from time to time.
However, not all of us know the negative effects that it has on our emotional and mental well-being.
Research shows that habitual negative social comparisons can cause a person to experience greater stress, anxiety, depression, and make self-defeating choices. Social media has made it far too easy to spend more time obsessing about other peoples’ lives and less about our own. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to building your self-worth.
When you compare yourself to others, you allow that negative voice inside of your head to say that you aren’t good enough. This only reinforces your negative self-talk that others are better than you, which is far from true. The more you compare yourself to others, the more you lose yourself.
Don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others. Focus on your innate talents and let them shine.
8. Do a Digital Detox
Do you have an unhealthy relationship with technology? The digital world has proven to be a gift and a curse for many of us. It has both connected and disconnected us from each other and from ourselves.
A digital detox is a great way to get back to the present moment where life actually exists.
By taking some time away from social media, it will give you more opportunities to spend time doing things that you love. More importantly, it will allow you to reconnect with yourself.
The next time that you feel the need to get online, step back and ask yourself – “What is happening right now inside of me that is making me want to distract myself?”
9. Recite Daily Affirmations
Your thoughts create your reality. This is why you need to condition your mindset everyday by reciting empowering and uplifting affirmations.
The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a part of our brain that makes words that get repeated over time as part of our identity, positive or negative. Therefore, when you repeat something positive to yourself everyday, overtime it becomes a part of who you are.
I have been able to completely eradicate some of my limiting beliefs purely by making affirmations an integral part of my morning routine.
More importantly, I have been able to replace my fears with confidence, just by training my brain to think positively about everything in my life.
All you need to do is pick a phrase and repeat it. Here are a few to get you started:
I am worthy
I am successful
I am loved
I am abundant
And more here: 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life
10. Play More
When is the last time you really threw your hair back and did something fun? It’s so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of work and life. When you are immersed in the headspace of constantly “doing,” it’s easy to forget the value of just “being.”
This is why I believe it’s so important to make play an integral part of your life. If you don’t, you risk taking life too seriously, or worse, falling into burnout.
Remind yourself that it’s okay to let loose sometimes. It’s called celebrating yourself! People don’t think twice why children love to play so much, and neither should adults.
Playing has been found to induce the release of endorphins, which are your body’s own feel-good chemicals that promote a sense of well-being and help provide some pain relief.
It can be as simple as going to a dance class or spending a weekend away on your own doing whatever YOU want.
11. Try Something New
Routines are great, but when you’re stuck in them, you are less likely to try new things. When was the last time that you stepped outside of your comfort zone and did something that was out of the ordinary for you?
Most people wake up at the same time everyday, drink the same coffee, eat the same breakfast, and go out with the same people.
No wonder people feel stagnant. They have settled for a life of what I like to call, “sameness.”
If this way of life floats your boat, all good! However, if you are craving some excitement and energy, it’s time to change the game and engage in some new experiences.
The more things you try, the more chances you have to create newfound passions.
12. Say “No” More Often
With endless to-do lists and responsibilities, finding time for self-care can feel like a luxury instead of a priority for many people.
How often do you say “no” to things that you don’t want to do?
If it’s quite often, awesome! If it’s rarely ever, join the people-pleasing club. I fall into this trap a lot because I have a desire to help people. However, sometimes I do things for people at the expense of my own well-being.
Appreciating your need for “you time” is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Agreeing to things just because you’re afraid to say “no” isn’t supportive of your needs.
Don’t forget that you don’t need to justify why you choose to say “no” in the first place. Your life. Your choices.
If saying no is a great challenge for you, take a look at Leo Babauta’s advice: The Gentle Art of Saying No
13. Create 2 Self-Love Ritual
Self-love is just like a muscle. If you don’t flex it, it weakens. The very act of engaging in self-love practices is a form of self-compassion in and of itself.
It’s easily overlooked how rewarding it can be to spend some time every day nurturing yourself. Whether it’s meditating, taking a long bath, taking a walk in nature, or journaling, find a routine that allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level.
If you don’t take the time to fill yourself up, you cannot expect to go out into the world and give to others.
Make yourself a priority. You deserve it.
Self-compassion is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. Throughout this wild ride that we call life, remember to be kind to yourself.
You’re doing the best that you can with what you have. We all are. You can’t really ask anything more of yourself.
In the words of Christopher Germer,
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”