Compassion is a key component of resilience. But often we’re only compassionate to others.
When you’re compassionate to others you help them be their better self. But so often we’re kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Instead of compassion, we beat ourselves up for a mistake or for saying or doing the wrong thing. And our inner critic can keep beating us up until we want to shut down and bury the memory.
I’ve made many mistakes, said or done something stupid, acted unkind or said something mean or insensitive. I know you know how it feels in your body and in your heart when that happens. There’s pain and shame and sorrow.
I want you to imagine, just for a moment, what would happen if when you screwed up you treated yourself like you would a friend — with kindness, care, encouragement and warmth.
What if you were self-compassionate?
Giving compassion calms your body and lowers stress. And receiving compassion makes you stronger. So self-compassion is a double gift!
Are you worried that being self-compassionate, to care for yourself as you would a friend, is indulgent? Treating yourself with kindness and forgiveness in fact helps you be more centered, stronger and lowers negative self-talk. When we’re stronger and centered, we have more energy for ourselves AND others. And that’s good for you and those around you.
Imagine Being Self-Compassionate
Think of a time a friend or family member was struggling and you were encouraging. Think back to what you were thinking and feeling as you cared for that person in a compassionate way. Really feel in your body what you were feeling then. What did you say or do to help the other person?
Now think about a time you feel you did something that hurt another person or you made a mistake or screwed up. I bet that time didn’t feel great and thinking about it may still have a sting to it.
Can you imagine sharing care and kindness to yourself for what you did? Can you transform shame and sadness into an opportunity for growth?
The world around us is in constant transition and change is rapid. So it’s likely we will make a mistake, say something wrong, hurt another person’s feelings. In those moments can you remember that none of us is perfect — in fact each of us is imperfect. Self-compassion allows us to see ourselves clearly and make changes, to learn so we can be our better selves in the future.
And the world needs your better self. So please, next time you do or say something that doesn’t feel right, be your own friend and talk to yourself with love and care and self-compassion.