How to Have Compassion for Yourself

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Do you give yourself compassion regularly?

Do you find self compassion icky? Do you think self compassion is selfish, self pity or only for the weak?

Compassion is natural and when you can give yourself compassion, your life can be happier, healthier and more balanced.

Scientific studies have found that practicing self-compassion regularly can help to:

  • reduce self-criticism
  • lower stress hormones
  • increase self-encouragments
  • increase resiliency
  • help to heal past pain especially from shortages of childhood days.

How do you practice self-compassion? Watch this video and practice along.

What is Self-Compassion?

According to the self compassion expert, Kristin Neff, PhD of Self-compassion.org; self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. For me, self-compassion means that I’m being kind to myself. Being kind to myself is expressed in many ways. For example, when I’m tired, instead of pushing onward and get one more thing off my to-do list done, I take a break and may be even a nap.

Why should one practice self-compassion? Personally, I’m happier, smile more and have a less stern look on my face. Before practicing mindfulness, I used to go around thinking about how I’m falling short, how I could have done something better or what else I needed to do to have a “good” day and looking quite stern, off putting and have a look that says “don’t mess with me”. Since I started mindfulness and self-compassion practices; I am happier, smile more and am less critical of myself. When I make a “mistake”, I laugh at myself, try again or be more accepting of a different than expected outcome.

Are there scientific benefits for practicing self-compassion? Yes! According to this article from Stanford University, 1) increased productivity, 2) decrease stress, 3) increase resiliency. Have you every beat yourself up for not doing something right? I used to beat myself up all the time and it only made me give up and walk away. After learning self compassion practices, I have learned to pause for the feelings of frustration or disappointment to be fully present and then offering myself encouraging words. After that round or two of being kind to myself, I then am able to finish the challenging task.

So how to practice self-compassion? There are formal practices from sources like Neff’s website. Emma Seppala, PhD, the science of happiness, health and social connection Founder, demonstrate 4 other practices: writing a letter, meditation, write down your self-talk, and develop a self-compassion mantra.

How do I practice self-compassion? One way is a formal practice that you can follow along on the video included in this article. A more daily practice is a mantra that I repeat occasionally, “I am kind to myself, I care about me.” A more in-depth practice is when I experience difficult emotions like irritation, that’s when I take a pause, a literal time-out from what’s going on. I find a space where I would not be easily distracted, then I emotionally open a space for the irritation to be present fully. I then say to myself, “oh, this is painful or I know this hurts”. I sometimes soothe myself by placing my hand near my heart area and inwardly tell myself “it’s okay, this too shall pass”. Often times, the irritation is the first layer of feeling and shortly other feelings and emotions surface much like a bubble rising from the bottom to the top to be released. I stay with the various feelings as long as I can and when the storm clears, I often find solutions to the difficult emotions or have a better understanding of the difficult situation and feelings.

You might be thinking that wow, there’s so much to this self-compassion concept, where do I start? May I offer for you the following suggestion: commit to the practice, be flexible and enjoy varieties of practices. Based on that suggestion, find one practice that you want to implement right this moment and play with that until you get bored with it, then find another. Get to know yourself and have fun. Remember that life is the journey and not a destination.