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Last Updated on March 16, 2020

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?”

You can also try these 10 Ways To Switch Off.

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.

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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. Here’s How to Learn Something New Every Day and Stay Smart.

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 Two Self-Love Rituals

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

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Ashley Elizabeth

Resilience Mastery Coach and Motivational Speaker

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

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