Self-Compassion is a term coined by researcher Dr. Kristin Neff. She explains the importance of validating your own emotions and refuting that always present self-critic that seems to be putting us down constantly. She helps us understand how to talk to ourselves the way we talk to our loved ones. With kindness, empathy, and respect. We wouldn't tell somebody else to "Toughen up", "Just deal with it", or "Pull yourself together because you should be better". We talk to them with kindness and try to help where we can. We offer our empathy and try to make them feel better, not worse.
Being nice to yourself sounds like a silly concept but in reality, it helps you feel respected, motivated, and more capable of pursuing and reaching your goals. This looks like treating yourself kindly even if you don’t feel very good at the moment. Validating your emotions rather than shaming yourself for having them. Check out her website here: https://self-compassion.org/
There is a formula I use with my clients to help them with putting self-compassion into play on their own outside of our sessions.
First: Validate the emotion you are feeling.
Sometimes we try to push down any negative feeling and change it. We might feel shame or guilt for not acting or thinking in a specific way. We get angry at ourselves and deny what is really happening within.
Instead of trying to immediately change that emotion or feeling by saying “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” or “Stop thinking that.” try to validate the experience by offering some grace to yourself. Saying something like “I know this is hard and you’re feeling frustrated or upset.” It can take away a bit of the sting.
Second: Show compassion.
Try offering some sympathy to yourself saying something like “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way and I am here to listen and support you.” It may sound funny talking to yourself in this way, but offering this type of compassion is a new perspective that allows you to feel heard and most importantly accepted for what you are experiencing.
Third: Offer support and encouragement.
After validating your emotions and showing nonjudgmental compassion it is important to encourage yourself by reminding yourself of your strengths and offering a supportive option of where to go from here. Saying something like “What can I do to support myself in this situation, what would be a good option to keep me feeling motivated?”
When you put the whole thing together it looks like having a conversation with a loved one. Picture a best friend or a sibling who is going through something hard. You respond to that person with love, respect, and kindness. That is the way we need to speak to ourselves when we are going through something tough.
Completing the formula to yourself might sound something like this:
Set the scene: you’re feeling anxious and incapable due to a presentation at work that you are worried about. If it goes well you will get a promotion.
“I know this is scary and there is a lot riding on this project, you are feeling underprepared and nervous. That’s okay, this is something new and you have worked very hard for this. You deserve to be here and to get this promotion. Would going on a walk or maybe getting a glass of water help? I know you can do this, you are a smart hard worker who is capable of presenting this topic.”
Give yourself some grace if this is hard to put into practice at first. Maybe just try one step at a time and then add them all together later on. Giving yourself grace and compassion can alleviate the fear and shame around your emotions. Treat yourself kindly.
The golden rule states to treat others the way you want to be treated right?
I am going to add on to that and say Treat yourself the way you treat others!