Everyone deserves to be a lot nicer to themselves compared to the way they already are. We are our own worst critics. Especially now during these tough times, it should come as a guarantee to give ourselves some self-compassion, but this may be easier said than done for many. Did you know that human beings are the only species known to make themselves feel bad? While it is true other animals experience suffering when negative events occur, humans are the only ones capable of inducing their own negative emotions through self-views, judgements, expectations, and regrets. People can be mean towards themselves, treating themselves more harshly than other people. Self-compassion has the power to influence people’s inner thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in ways self-esteem does not.
You may be wondering, what exactly does self-compassion entail? Self-compassion isn’t judging yourself in a positive way, it’s being kind to yourself, no matter where you are at in your life. Compassion is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another individual’s suffering and feeling motivated to relieve that suffering. Compassion shares similar ideals with altruism and empathy, but it’s not quite the entire definition. Self-compassion is being true to yourself whether you are “failing”, “succeeding”, or simply not quite yet in the place you thought you would be. This past year has filled everyone’s life with different forms of anxiety, trauma, and hopelessness. The least we can do to ourselves is to remember to be kind and to be true.
There are 3 types of compassion. Compassion for self— is to embrace feelings of self-love, respect, and knowing when to set boundaries. Being able to maintain physical health, validating and embracing your emotions, and actively engaging in routine self-care [positive affirmations, drinking your favorite latte flavor, walking in nature, etc.] Self-compassion is a tool that does not develop overnight, but it is a tool in order to develop a more sustainable compassion towards others around you. The second type of compassion is for others—empathizing with others and understanding them the way they come; not to fix them. Finally, the last type of compassion is for the enemy—this is seen as the most difficult type of compassion. But, allowing for yourself to question why an individual would act or behave a certain way countenances for a better understanding and certain ways to reduce animosity and anger towards them [remember, hurt people hurt people].
So, I guess now you’re asking yourself, why should I practice self-compassion and how do I go about doing so? Well, research shows people that practice self-compassion are happier, less stressed, and more resilient. Self-compassion allows for the intertwining of mindfulness, self-kindness, and connectedness. One of the best and easiest ways to start practicing and beginning the journey of self-compassion in your life is with positive affirmations. Positive affirmations build self-esteem and self-efficacy. These are positive phrases and statements used to challenge negative and unhealthy thoughts towards oneself. They are used to motivate, encourage, and build positive self-relations that take less than 5 minutes a day! Examples include [but are not limited to]:
“I am worthy.”
“Today is going to be a great day.”
“I am in love with myself and my body.”
This website offers a ton of different positive affirmations to help begin with your journey of self-compassion.
Leary, M. (2021, February 19). Learning to be kind to yourself has remarkable benefits – Mark Leary: Aeon Essays. Aeon. https://aeon.co/essays/learning-to-be-kind-to-yourself-has-remarkable-benefits.
Wishuponyourselfblog, /. (2019, March 30). Self Care. wishuponyourself.com. https://wishuponyourself.com/category/self-care/.
Written by: Abrea, 2021 Undergraduate Intern
Want to talk to someone who can help? If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this or other negative thoughts and are in the Chicagoland area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.