Breaking Habits Part Four: Self-Compassion

Image result for self compassion quotesWelcome to part 4 in our series on breaking habits. The last post discussed tolerating distress, and alluded to the fact that practicing self-compassion can greatly help us here. This post will help clarify what it means to be compassionate to ourselves, and how we can go about doing this practically.

We often hear about 'self love', but what does this truly mean? We often think that self-love means we need to love everything about ourselves - outside, inside, etc. And while this is true, it is often exaggerated because self-love really does not have to mean that you love yourself in all ways possible. Why do I say this? Because we all have things we wish we could change about ourselves. Instead, let's redefine self-love to ACCEPTANCE. We accept ourselves as we are - the parts we love, AND the parts that we don't love as much. When we look at it this way, self-compassion becomes a lot easier! (P.S. I recommend that you take time to see this site, where you can learn more).

Image result for self compassion quotesSo, how do we practice self-compassion? Let's start of with the easiest thing: stop saying bad things about yourself. This is easier said than done. We often are our worst critics, saying harsh things to ourselves. Did you do something embarrassing? Did you call yourself 'silly, stupid', or other names? STOP! It is easy to do this because we feel ashamed, angry, or frustrated with ourselves. But calling ourselves names is harmful; we begin to believe these words. Instead, self-compassion means acknowledging that we are frustrated with ourselves, and riding through these difficult emotions. It means realizing that we are imperfect, but that we are still worthy of love, strength, happiness, success, and peace. Self-compassion means understanding and realizing that though we may not love everything about ourselves, and though we may make mistakes or be imperfect, we are worthy of life.

Self-compassion can also mean doing things that help us care for our minds and bodies, which are strongly interconnected. Physically, we need to feel good to be well mentally. And when we are mentally and emotionally well, we can care for ourselves physically. So, self-compassion can also mean feeding our bodies with enough nutrition, moving in enjoyable and healthy ways, taking our medications, etc. It also means allowing ourselves to rest and relax, to engage in enjoyable activities, and to realize that we must take care of ourselves in order to live fully.

Image result for self compassion ideasThere are lots of other ways to engage in - and practice - self-compassion. Think about how you would treat a loved one...what would you tell them about accepting or loving themselves? What suggestions would you have? Practice these in your own life. Again, this is a lot easier said than done. We face challenges like money, time, motivation, and so much more. Remember, though, that practicing self-compassion does not mean that we need to spend loads of money on fancy foods, massages, etc. if we cannot do so. It does not mean that we need to schedule 4 hours for self-care. It does not even mean that we stand in front of the mirror and reflect on how beautiful we feel. HOWEVER, self-compassion means caring for ourselves in a way that nurtures our health and wellness - physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Prompt: what can you do practice self-compassion today? How can you care for yourself?

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