You might take care of your health on the daily by focusing on diet and exercise, but connecting to yourself with kindness can be equally nourishing. And what better day to start showing yourself a little love than Valentine’s Day? So today, be your own #1.
It may seem obvious that treating others with kindness and compassion is a good thing. It may be less obvious that treating yourself with the same care and attention is just as important. Learning to be patient, using kind and gentle language, and being actively soothing to yourself especially when things go wrong, will help you feel less stressed and more resilient (1). Research shows that self-compassion is linked to reducing the many ways you might feel distress, like anxiety, depression, or shame, and can increase many of the ways you can feel well-being, like optimism, connectedness, and self confidence.
When you feel compassion for someone, you tend notice their suffering, and are moved to respond to their pain. As a result you may feel a sense of warmth and caring, and you may even feel the desire to help. You are also more likely to be understanding when someone else makes a mistake. Rather than judging them harshly, you realize that suffering, failure and mistakes are part of what makes us all human (2).
Having this perspective towards yourself is what self-compassion is all about. The good news is that if you don’t treat yourself so kindly right now, you can change that.
Try this simple exercise:
- How would you treat a friend?
- Imagine a close friend is feeling badly about themself, or struggling in some way. What would you do?
- When you are at your best, what would you say to them, and how would you say it? Think about your tone of voice.
- Now think about when you feel badly about yourself, or have experienced some kind of failure or mistake. How do you speak to yourself? Do you have a critical voice? What kind of things do you say to yourself?
- Now think about what would it be like if you treated yourself the same way you would treat a friend. How do you think you would change if you used that same voice you use with a friend when talking to yourself?
To learn how to treat yourself with kindness and patience, this self compassion meditation can be really effective. It is a powerful tool to shift critical or negative self talk to be more friendly and warm.
When I relate to myself with kindness and compassion, it’s as if a weight has been lifted, and I feel less anxiety. I’m not as worried about being judged, and I feel more confident about sharing myself with my family, friends and the world. How does it impact you when you connect to yourself in the same way?
When you become more friendly and warm to yourself, you are actually bringing all of us one person closer to living in a world full of peaceful, kind and compassionate human beings. That’s the best news of all!