“Ugh, I totally messed up. I forgot to pay the phone bill last month and now I have a penalty plus two bills to pay. My partner is already stressed out about money and this is going to make it worse. Naturally I’ve been worried too, so I’ve been eating too much and now my clothes barely fit and I look and feel terrible.” It’s not uncommon to hear statements like this from people we know, and we typically respond with kind and reassuring words, making sure our friend knows they are not alone.
Now imagine that statement was coming from you. What would you tell yourself? Would you greet that message with the same compassion, reminding yourself that this is a moment of suffering and that everyone goes through it? Or would you call yourself a failure and focus on all the mistakes you make? Why can we treat others with so much care and kindness, but be so demanding of ourselves? I often find that the core of people’s anxieties and worries come from this negative self-talk and perception of self. The practice of self-compassion can reduce the impact of these negative critiques of ourselves and allow us recognize our mistakes without dwelling on them.
Self-compassion is simple to implement. Like anything new, it may feel strange at first, but with practice you can develop more ability to free yourself from the expectations of perfection, and live your life with fearlessness and fun!
There are three basic components to self-compassion:
- Common humanity: It is impossible to live a life without error or suffering. We are fallible, we all make mistakes, and that is ok. We are not alone in this.
- Mindfulness: In these moments of suffering, recognize your feelings, and do so without judgement. Instead of critiquing yourself for having feelings that may seem unwarranted, simply notice what you are feeling.
- Self-Kindness: There are moments in life that will be hard, and in these moments of suffering, talk to yourself as you would to a friend. This can be the most difficult part for some, but even recognizing the difficulty with this process can be met with kindness! Try saying “this is a new process. It feels uncomfortable but I’m still trying and I’m doing a great job.”
In my individual sessions, I like to support clients in building self-compassion. I have heard from clients how treating themselves with compassion has enhanced their journey to wellness and increases their quality of life. When we spend less time talking down to ourselves or worrying about how we look to others, we have more time to enjoy all that is around us and to move forward from error more easily. I am currently accepting new clients and would be honoured to support you in your journey towards self-compassion.