Updated: Jan 26
December 13th, 2022
"Self-compassion is often neglected by those who think they don't deserve grace when faced with challenges or difficulties - regardless of how big or small they may be."
Adapting to a “new normal” can feel like every day yields new challenges and setbacks. Remembering a time when we were at our best can seem like a distant memory. Although we may judge ourselves harshly as possible to avoid future mistakes, a replay of the past over and over will never add any value to the present experience. Hindsight will always be 20/20. It is easier to correct actions with a clearer view after a time when knowledge catches up with emotion. Research recognizes the usefulness of self-compassion.
Dr. Kristin Neff has championed the importance of self-compassion for quite some time. At its core, self-compassion is similar to the level of understanding we feel for others, just channeled towards ourselves. While many of us are great at being compassionate towards the people we care about, we can be less open to taking that same approach to our own situations.
Here are a few tips to support your journey moving forward...
Self-kindness means being kind and understanding to ourselves rather than applying strict judgment about our behavior. It is about recognizing that we make mistakes. The goal should be to learn from them.
Another shared life experience among many can be a state of suffering and setbacks as well are a natural part of life. Everyone goes through it. It is a universal and shared reality much like the experience of losing a loved one and grief. Please note that the loss of a loved one is a shared reality, but the feeling connected to it will be different for everyone. Some are more difficult than others. Go easy...
Mindfulness involves taking a balanced perspective. It is about being curious about our feelings and not exaggerating or minimizing our emotional state. This enables us to step back and process our emotions more effectively. Be mindful of the perspective you're in right now and ask this question, "Is this perspective helpful or unhelpful?" If it's not clear and you feel out of balance, please connect with someone that can help.
Why is self-compassion an essential tool? (For those of you who love studies and science.)
In a study I came across conducted by a Berkeley team, participants were given the opportunity to retake a test they had previously failed. When given this opportunity, people who were self-compassionate studied much longer (approximately 25% longer), and scored higher on their tests.
Holding self-compassion does not mean letting go of personal responsibility or lowering our expectations of ourselves. On the contrary, exercising personal forgiveness is to acknowledge our shortcomings, while recognizing that we also have the possibility of achieving excellence and success. It reinforces that these performance setbacks are temporary, which can drive us to push ourselves to our higher limits. It is a more balanced and realistic view of our capabilities and situation.
I recommend writing out the experience you're thinking about or having trouble reconciling with self-compassion. With love in your heart, please.
As we navigate the holiday season, self-compassion may be an essential resource to help us move through this time. By accepting our humanity with humility, and forgiveness for our inevitable mistakes, we put ourselves in a position to be the best version of ourselves, both now and in the future. Include grace as well.
Focus on what you can do. Be open to a new view with self-awareness and compassion that supports who you are becoming moving forward.
If this helped in any way, feel free to share or comment below. I have found that people need stories that share a common thread as well as a community to get through life's challenges. It has been my personal vision since I began my career to help as many people as I can.
"You don't need to do something extraordinary. Keep it simple. One step at a time is a good place to start."