Posted on January 25, 2016 in Personal Growth by Sandra Bienkowski
I was in a weekly session of talk therapy when my psychologist said, “You didn’t learn about self-compassion in your childhood.” Tears welled up in my eyes. Just hearing that sentence soothed me. My head was like a boxing match — me against me. And he understood. I was in my mid-20s at the time, and my mind was a hostile place of self-criticism, brooding, and self-loathing. Unfortunately, my inner critic accompanied me everywhere.
I had this incredible talent of quickly identifying the best traits in others, while knocking myself down with the worst traits in me. My parents were extremely critical and now they were in my head. “You aren’t even close to kind to yourself,” my psychologist said. He helped me realize my ability to comfort myself didn’t even exist.
It was a pivotal moment for me in therapy. Of course life felt hard. I was beating myself up all the time! Why did I easily have compassion and kindness for others (including my own pets) and have none for me?
Living without self-compassion is like driving a car you never take in for regular maintenance. Eventually your car won’t work right and it breaks down. Self-compassion is an emotional tool that builds resilience and mental toughness. With practice, self-compassion can build up your inner strength and ward off depression and anxiety.
Here are five ways self-compassion can turn a painful life into a happy one.
1. Your head shifts from foe to friend. Compassion is kindness. When things don’t go right, you coach yourself back up again. You are gentle with yourself. Don’t replay events endlessly in your head to make yourself feel crappy. You talk to yourself in kind ways and say things like, “I did the best I could in the moment with the knowledge I had at the time.” Give yourself support and encouraging words. Drop the negative voice who scrutinizes your every move, and be a friend to yourself. Most of us operate better when someone believes in us. Let that someone be you.