4 Compassionate Ways to Ease Up on Yourself

Practice self-kindness and give yourself space to get through hard times with these simple tips.

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Posted in , Sep 9, 2020

Feeling self-compassion

“If you can be only one thing,” the saying goes, “be kind.” 

In this time of pandemic, I’m drawn to edit the aphorism slightly. If you can do only one thing for yourself, be kind to yourself. In other words, practice self-compassion. Here’s how to get started.

1)  Breathe Into It

You can bring self-compassion into your whole body by focusing on your breath in a supportive, loving way. Breathing in, think to yourself, “I am.” Breathing out, think of a self-soothing, comforting word or idea like “peace,” “love,” “free” or “safe.” No matter what might be on your mind today, no matter how you might be judging yourself or feeling less-than, you can always return to the gentle rhythm of your breath. Let it lovingly nudge you back toward self-compassion.

2)  Savor the Good Things

Part of cultivating self-compassion is the ability to recognize things for which we are grateful and to savor them. Sip your morning tea or bite into a crisp apple with appreciation for its goodness. Thank yourself for finding a way to connect with something simple but lovely, letting yourself enjoy the gift of being cared for by your own self.

3)  Be Curious

Compassionate self-talk is not judgmental, rushed or finite. Instead, it is open, curious and interested in what is happening in and around your thoughts, feelings and actions. Try to be curious with yourself, as you would with a beloved friend who came to you with a problem or negative self-talk. Ask, “I wonder…” questions to encourage yourself to shed new light on what is getting you down. And offer yourself responses that assume the best in yourself. For example, you could respond to “I wonder why I am waking up in the middle of the night lately?” with a gentle, “I am not alone in having sleep challenges. There’s just so much on my mind. Tonight, I’ll leave myself a note reminding myself that it’s normal to have a hard time during a pandemic—and that I am safe, loved and good.”

4)  Return to Your Core Values

“Remaining connected to our core values and finding ways to stay true to them in the midst of disruption is an act of self-care,” write Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, co-developers of the Mindful Self-Compassion Program. Articulating values that are important to you—like caring for your family, being a good friend or doing meaningful work—can help you think flexibly about how you are meeting those values. And that can happen even as the pandemic has changed the ways in which you are used to living your most cherished principles.

How do you practice self-compassion?

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