Even the most highly evolved person can remain their own worst critic. As we strive to become more loving and accepting of others, we must first direct the love and acceptance toward ourselves. This is called self-compassion. According to Kristin Neff , a scientist whose research focuses on self-compassion, we need to begin by quieting our own inner critic. She identifies the three components of self-compassion as self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Self-kindness is the desire to alleviate suffering. Treating oneself with care and understanding. Common humanity is our ability to see our personal experience as part of a larger human experience. Mindfulness is the ability stay present and avoid emotional extremes or suppression.
Why Don’t People Show Themselves Compassion?
In our busy lives we often want to rush right into problem solving mode before we have actually spent a moment feeling our feelings. Accepting them. And deciding why we feel that way and if it works for us. Why isn’t this self-compassionate way of thinking more prevalent? Some of the reasons people don’t afford themselves compassion and love include:
- Confusing self-compassion with a pity party.
- Difficulty interpreting the difference constructive criticism and bullying.
- Seeing self-care as over-indulgent
- Misinterpreting our compassion as excuses for our short-comings.
- Believing that the best way to motivate yourself to change is by being critical of you are today.
The good thing is that once you cultivate an attitude of acceptance for yourself you will find these benefits accompany it. For example, self-compassion offers the same advantages as high self-esteem and people who love themselves have steadier emotions. When people who accept themselves are able to discuss their negatives, they are able to buffer the emotional blow by using “we” instead of me as they share common humanity. Other benefits of self acceptance are compassion for yourself, freeing yourself from comparison to others, and increasing happiness.
20 Ways to Treat Yourself with Kindness
If you are convinced that being loving, kind, and accepting of yourself is something to prioritize, here are 20 ways to start treating yourself the way you deserve to be treated. Pick a few to try each day.
1. Take a walk
2. Indulge in a treat like imported cheese, chocolate or some salty fries
3. Buy a new book
4. Have a picnic lunch
5. Skip a chore you really dislike
6. Plant a flower
7. Throw yourself a kitchen dance party while you cook
8. Use the good dishes and make your table Martha Stewart worthy
9. Wear your most comfortable clothing
10. Clear your closet clutter and donate the things you don’t need to someone who needs them
11. Give yourself a facial
12. Smile at yourself in the mirror
13. Listen to an inspiring podcast
14. Start a gratitude journal- list three things you are thankful for every night before you go to bed
15. Buy a better pillow- sleep well and your day will feel more smooth and relaxed
16. Have coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile
17. Invite someone intriguing but outside your normal social circle to lunch or to dinner
18. Plan a party
19. Register for a retreat
20. Pick one thing you have always wanted to do (like flying lessons or hot yoga) and do it!
Deciding to focus on habits that help you to flourish means knowing a bit about what boosts you happiness. For some it’s time alone, for others, a party. Becoming a student of who you are and what you like will help provide clarity as to how you can use simple hacks to increase your self-acceptance. When you love yourself this energy causes you to become more attractive to others. Remember, you are the priority here. Don’t be a martyr. Put yourself first. As the saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.