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Last Updated on July 12, 2019

13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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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.[4] 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.[5]

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.

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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.[6] 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.

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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.[7] 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 head space 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.[8]

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.”

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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.

Final Thoughts

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.”

How will you celebrate yourself today?

Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ashley Elizabeth

Women's Resilience Mastery Coach & Dance Movement Medicine Therapist

What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? How to Be More Self-Aware and Strive to Be a Better Person 13 Things You Can Do to Build Emotional Resilience 5 Steps to Bounce Back Fast When Life Knocks You Down 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion

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Last Updated on October 23, 2019

How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

How to Change a Negative Attitude That Is Destroying You

A negative attitude carries with it a lack of awareness. You’re not necessarily aware of a negative attitude permeating your outlook on life, and because of this lack of awareness, your attitude affects your interactions with other people and your interactions with yourself.

What if you were to become aware? What if, suddenly, you were able to step outside of the thought pattern that creates your attitude, choose a new pattern, and thus, a new attitude?

Think about your thoughts. Many sources of advice aren’t going to tell you this crucial point:

Changing your attitude is not about stifling or eliminating negative thoughts. It’s about changing your thought patterns through action.

Negative thoughts will arise, but when you brood on them it’s like feeding and rewarding them so that they will come back again and form a pattern.

When you alter repetitive thought patterns, you alter your attitude — it’s a physical process, and with it comes the ability to change the world in which you live. You’ll achieve things you didn’t think were possible before.

To undertake this change, understand what to do with negative or unhelpful thoughts when they arise. This understanding will help you take action towards changing your attitude.

Read on for some quick and easy suggestions on how to change a negative attitude.

1. Harness the Incredible Power of Redirection

Oftentimes, we think in a black-and-white, limiting way. It’s called binary thinking. Even thinking of thoughts as only negative or positive is a binary way of thinking.

You develop a negative attitude because you are convinced this binary way of thinking is an accurate reflection of reality. When this way of thinking doesn’t achieve good results, you assign blame. Blame doesn’t help solve the problem of binary thinking — it perpetuates it.

Binary thinking causes you to have tunnel vision when you’re working on your goals. You feel one approach is the right one — but research shows that redirection improves creativity.[1] Redirection requires you to think differently by changing tasks.

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Take a step back from what you’re doing. Is there a different approach you can take? Who can you reach out to for help? What haven’t you tried? Redirect your actions and you’ll find yourself thinking more creatively and positively when it comes to solving the original problem.

2. Amp up Your Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is exactly what it sounds like: these are uplifting statements you make to yourself. Then, you act on them.

The thing about positive self-talk is it’s self-fulfilling. In other words, by concentrating on your strengths and making positive statements about yourself, you become what you tell yourself you are and your attitude changes.

Psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker identifies key statements that mentally healthy people make:[2]

  • “I am lovable”
  • “I am capable”
  • “Most other people are lovable and capable, too”
  • “Success comes from doing”
  • “Challenges are opportunities”
  • “It’s only human to make mistakes”
  • “I have what it takes to cope with change — and to make changes happen”

Tell yourself these things every day. Note statement number 4, “Success comes from doing.” You want to change your negative attitude. To successfully change your attitude, do things that help you feel good about yourself and others. Volunteer work and community sports leagues are great options.

Action creates change. Make positive statements to yourself, take action based on these statements, and your outlook on life will change.

3. Be a Change Agent, Not a Victim

An agent is someone who is actively engaged in making something happen. A victim is someone who suffers from circumstances beyond their control.

Victimization is valid and real, but if there’s no active pursuit of a solution, you remain a victim — you remain passive, and your attitude is one of bitterness, helplessness, or cynicism.

You’re an agent who can change your own attitude. Ultimately, your own actions are the only things you control.

You may not be able to control the rise of negative thoughts due to a tragedy that was beyond your control, but you can control how you respond to those thoughts.

Consider the following methods of coping with tragedies:[3]

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  • Talk with a counselor or someone who can give you an outside perspective.
  • Turn off the news, stop wallowing, and get active. Activities such as exercise, art, and games will help you process your feelings better by giving you a break from concentrating on repetitive negative thoughts.
  • Offer your support to others who have had a similar experience. If, for example, you’re recovering from addiction, find a peer support group.
  • Redirect painful emotions by finding an activity, such as volunteer work, writing, music, or sports, that is emotionally fulfilling and allows you to release pent-up emotions.

Sometimes tragedy is self-inflicted, meaning you have a bad experience that’s not necessarily a tragedy, but you treat it as such. You get down on yourself, turn to drugs and alcohol, and brood over your negative thoughts and feelings.

Be sure to recognize if this is happening, and become an agent of recovery instead of victimization.

4. Dream Huge — but Set Realistic Expectations

This is the truth about your dream: it’s real. What you really want out of life — call it your dream or fantasy or ambition — is a real idea you can and should hold onto no matter what happens.

To set realistic expectations, break your dream down into steps that are achievable in the short-term.

If you believe you’re entitled — you expect everything to fall into place — you will not realize your dream. Even if you’re lucky and successful, it won’t feel like success because entitlement is a bottomless pit.

A negative attitude stems from expectations that don’t line up with reality. Again, your actions are the only thing you control. Science shows you’re not even necessarily in control of your thoughts.[4]

But you are in control of the thoughts you choose to dwell on. Concentrate on your plans. You can expect to follow through when you concentrate on and check off the steps to completing a task. Concentrate on the tasks you need to complete in order to make your dream a reality.

5. Transform Negative Thoughts into Ultimate Questions

Asking questions opens your mind to new ideas. It helps you begin to build confidence. Positive self-talk can be tough, because your mind is like a broken record. You tell yourself you’re lovable, but for every time you say that, the thought that no one loves you pops up 10 times.

Forbes’ Melody Wilding makes a great recommendation:[5]

“When you catch your inner critic flinging accusations, think: how can I turn this statement into a question?”

Here are some examples:

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  • Instead of, “Something must be wrong with me,” say, “What are the steps to success?”
  • Instead of, “I hate going to the grocery store,” say, “How can I save time at the grocery store?”
  • Instead of, “These people are annoying,” say, “How can I talk to these people so that this meeting is enjoyable?”
  • Instead of, “I was a complete idiot last night,” say, “What can I do differently in the future?”

This way, you’re opening possibilities for new, constructive thoughts. You’re also paying attention to your thoughts and doing something with them.

6. Laugh!

“It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer

In almost all cases, you’ll develop a negative attitude if you choose to be angry and depressed instead of choosing to laugh. But how can you choose to laugh when something seems downright terrible?

This is where the imagination and mental exercise kick in. Choose to look at a disappointing or disheartening circumstance in a different way. What is it that’s ironic, absurd, or outrageous about the circumstance?

Is there an opposite circumstance you can imagine, one that’s so fantastically great it brings tears of laughter to your eyes just thinking about it? Are there any details that are just flat-out strange?

If you’re depressed, choose comedy — choose something that can bring a smile to your face. Train yourself to seek good opportunities for humour, and you’re training yourself to have a positive attitude.

7. Embrace Your Emotions and Release Them Confidently

The moment you experience an emotion, there’s a reason for it; and therefore it’s valid.

Here’s the challenge: you must control what you do with that emotion.

You could hold the emotion in and let it fester, but that leads to things like depression, pent-up rage, and low self-esteem.

You could release your emotion the moment you feel it without thinking, but that leads to relationship issues with other people. Or, you could release the emotion confidently in a way that asserts your self and your boundaries.

  • Practice observing your emotions when you feel them on a daily basis. Note what the emotion is and be there with it.
  • When you experience a strong emotion such as anger, take time to note your anger, take deep breaths, and calm down.
  • Figure out what or who caused your anger, and why.
  • Assert yourself. Don’t be mean about it, be confident. Say something like, “I would prefer for you to treat everyone as equals in the group, I can’t speak for everyone in the group, but it’s very important to me.”
  • Set your boundaries by repeating “I” statements, such as, “I don’t want you to yell at me, I feel uncomfortable. If there’s a problem, I would prefer to talk about it calmly.”

If you embrace your emotions by processing them — by asking who, what, why, and how — and then you deal with them by expressing yourself confidently, your attitude will remain one of confidence, calmness, and positivity.

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8. Create, Move, Believe, Contemplate Great Things

Once you know you are in control of how you react to thoughts and emotions, and in turn your actions create a pattern that reinforces itself, a huge world of greatness is there for you.

Greatness is there because at all times you can choose it. You can choose to listen to your deepest emotions, which are a thing of beauty because of their intense purity, and you can translate them into new things. New songs, poems, sayings, artworks, running routes, exercise routines, meals, friendships, jobs — it’s all there for you.

Each negative thought is a positive response waiting to happen. Feel how your positive responses and your positive attitude are so enjoyable you wouldn’t trade them for anything else. Believe that you are amazing and your actions will have amazing results — even if you are not around to see the results bloom and flower.

Contemplate great things because they’re the greatest things to contemplate. What if your decision to appreciate other people’s little quirks someday becomes love? What if your decision to write in your diary everyday someday becomes a memoir? You’re capable of all these things, and life can be great.

9. Leave with the Four Agreements — but Agree to Come Back Again and Again

A man named Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book called The Four Agreements. With these agreements, Ruiz distills pearls of ancient Toltec wisdom. To transform your attitude, agree to do the following:

  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Do your best

That’s it. Think about how these agreements inform your actions.

If you are doing your best, you are in the moment.

If you are impeccable with your word, you say things that reflect on the world you want to create.

If you don’t take anything personally, you don’t get offended by other people’s words and actions, so you don’t lash out at them.

If you don’t make assumptions, you have realistic expectations.

Furthermore, check out these other tips on how to change your attitude. Return to advice that helps you again and again. With an attitude that says, “I’m always learning,” you’ll do just that, and your life will keep improving.

Featured photo credit: Carolina Heza via unsplash.com

Reference

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