Self-compassion is a Foundational Part of Well-Being
It is the opposite of self-criticism and in trying times like this year, it is crucial that we develop and practice self-compassion every day, every moment, every second basis. Some people (ahem perfectionists) believe that self-compassion is a copout because the inner critic tends to take up more mental real estate than anything else. But, if self-criticism would work to help you feel better, you would have been flying over the moon by now. It is recognizing that when you are having a hard time with something going on in life or feeling like you are not where you should be right now, you need to care for yourself instead of punishing yourself for it.
I see a lot of this now more than ever, as adults and children are adjusting to another phase of pandemic life. Many feel bad about their body image after having gained weight. Many feel like they’ve fallen behind reaching their goals. Others feel insecure about relationships after not socializing for quite some time. What follows is condemnation, self-loathing, and self-sabotage. Practically speaking, they overeat or use unhealthy means to change their body, use their time numbing out instead of focusing on work, retreat from social life instead of reaching out and talking to new/old friends. It’s a vicious cycle based on not liking yourself. The idea that you have to perfect is so strong that anything off-center is considered a failure and a reason to punish and criticize to somehow motivate you to succeed.
Self-compassion is softer. It is understanding that despite all of your wishes, you aren’t perfect. You are allowed to fall off track, learn from it and get back on, or find a new path. Dr. Kristin Neff is a psychologist who has dedicated her career to studying and teaching self-compassion. Take this quiz and check out your level of self-compassion. If you find yourself struggling with this, her website offers amazing tools. If you want individualized support, contact me for a consultation.