Self-Compassion is defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” Kristin Neff, a leading researcher on self-compassion, has defined self-compassion as “being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.”
It is inevitable, in all of our lives, that we will someday fail at something. Intentional or not, there comes a point when we make a mistake or feel betrayed or just plain screw up. We can lose days, hours of sleep, and precious energy mulling over the issues and choosing not to forgive ourselves. Or we can cultivate our self-compassion practice so that when we do feel let down or make a mistake, we can be patient with ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and give ourselves the space to grow. An article about self-compassion in Psychology Today elaborates that “people who have self-compassion also have greater social connectedness, emotional intelligence, happiness, and overall life satisfaction. Self-compassion has also been shown to correlate with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure.”
Step 1: understand the difference between your Self and your Saboteurs these voices have different sounds and even live in different parts of the brain. We all have voices that tell us that we aren’t good enough or that there is something wrong with us. This quiz is completely free and can give you a better idea of how exactly your self-sabotage takes forms. There are many different ways that we can trick ourselves into feeling less-than or unworthy, and it is important to face these head-on so that we can make decisions and life choices that are in alignment with our Higher Selves.
- Auditory & Visualization Exercise: When you hear these voices, pay close attention to where they are coming from. According to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the space where the voices are coming from can give you a lot of information. The next time you hear a negative voice, pay very close attention to the spatial placing of these voices. A voice that comes from your true Higher Self will come from the straight on or from a centered place. A voice that has been embedded into your psyche from someone else or from a traumatic event in the past will most likely come from behind you or from one side or another. This is likely because it came from a parent or adult figure who told you something unpleasant about who you are when you were small.
- After trying to separate the voices spatially, as you begin to recognize negative voices or sabeteours acting up, use your inner voice to confront and talk back to these negative voices by reinforcing your love for yourself and your safety within yourself. Repeat “I am loved. I feel safe.” and any other comforting mantras that may feel intuitive to you at this time.
Step 2: Cultivate your self-worth. We live in a society that benefits off of us attaching our self worth to external items. Capitalism benefits off of our desires for better clothes, nicer houses, fancier appliances, and high-paying, high-status jobs. We need to peel back these layers and confront our own sense of worthiness. Life is so immensely short, and the only way you can truly enjoy it is if you are in the present moment and find space to cherish exactly where you are in life right now. That means breaking away from the what-ifs and the self-doubt for just a minute to enjoy how far you’ve come, how many people you’ve met, and the impact that you undoubtedly have had on this world.
- Visualization exercise: picture the best memories that you have had, the most special moments that you have shared, the nicest things people have said to you or about you, and let those play through in your head. Allow yourself to “enter” these memories. Instead of just watching them like a movie of your life, relive these moments and feel what it was like to be at that age, in that space, with those people. Live in these moments for a minute or longer.
- Now, zoom out of one of these memories and watch yourself in it like a movie. Erase all of the other people who were there out of your mind, and just watch yourself in this place at this happy time in your life. Allow yourself to watch yourself experiencing these beautiful moments in your life. This practice has helped me deepen my self-love because it has shown me that at any age in my life, I have always been there for myself. As unconventional as it sounds, when you are constantly hearing negative voices about yourself and when you beat yourself up most of the time, (or are victim of negative voices as a result of depression), it can make you feel as if you are constantly attacking yourself. Even if it doesn’t seem to be happening consciously, these thoughts still take a massive toll on our psyches. This visualization practice really helped me rekindle my positive relationship with my self rather than continue the narrative of self-doubt and self-criticism. Realizing that I have more than a handful of happy times makes me feel connected to my entire life story, and helps me realize that I can choose, at any time, to create another happy moment – right here, right now. And so can you.
Step 3: Talk about yourself or a struggle that you may be having in the third person. If your best friend or spouse came to you and broke down in tears, how would you treat them? Wouldn’t you hug them, console them, tell them that you’re there for them, and that everything will be okay? Take this empathy and gentleness and speak to yourself in the same manner.
I have found myself getting so upset because of the struggles that other people face – because of my strong sense of empathy. However, the second I make a mistake or face a difficult situation, the more I am likely to criticize myself and be incredibly harsh. If you would never do this with a loved one, why do it to yourself?
- Activity: Speak aloud about how you are feeling in the third person. Speaking about yourself from a removed place can help you look at your behaviors or the situation you are struggling with in an objective manner, and can also help you create a deeper sense of empathy for yourself.
- If this is incredibly difficult for you, you can start by typing out how you feel or what you are struggling with as if you were describing it to someone else. Take a day, and then return to this statement the next morning or in 24 hours. Read over it, and think about what you would tell someone who came to you with this exact problem. You can even type back a response! This activity will allow you to take some of the pressure off yourself by again, zooming out, and allowing yourself to first cultivate passion from a third-person perspective the way that you would for another member of your inner circle.
Sending Love & Light,