There are many things you might need to have some self compassion about. If you are anything like me as a parent you feel like you have to be perfect at everything you do. You have to have a perfectly cleaned house, you have to have children that behave perfectly, excel academically, and are the top in extracurricular activities. You have to have the perfect marriage and the perfect friendships. You have to excel in a career and be the best in your field. You have to be the best at taking care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising so you can look exactly how people expect a perfect person to look. If you ever feel like you need this perfection dear friend of mine, what you really need is self compassion.
I think I always struggled early on with perfectionism and I think it came mostly from comparing myself to others. Growing up, I had three sisters who never gained any weight. Two of them were so extraverted and outgoing they always had friends. I was shy and quiet. In high school, I tried taking the Advanced classes and while I would notice everyone else had an A on their vocabulary test, I would have an F no matter how hard I studied. I never felt good enough about myself because I was always comparing myself to others and never knew my worth. This was my earliest stage of feelings where I could have benefited from self compassion.
Awareness is the first step in ever overcoming any obstacle. The thing is that awareness is typically a really slow process. You may have glimmer's of moments of awareness of a change that needs to be made and often times you have to go through the obstacle multiple times before you think "OH! This is what I need to be doing!" And sometimes no matter what, you still have to continue to bring awareness to how to control a situation. So when I was having feelings of not being good enough in literally any and ever aspect of my life, it probably wasn't until I started to counsel other people that I found that they weren't giving themselves enough self compassion and low and behold, I started to finally pick up on the fact I wasn't giving myself the same self compassion I was giving to my clients.
So the biggest step after you become aware of something, is to seek knowledge about it. I think this feeling of not being enough and trying to always be perfect has really led me down the road of self improvement and personal growth. So anytime I ran into an obstacle, I'm reading Atomic Habits, I'm reading about Autism, I'm reading about literally any topic that pops up into my life that I think, I do not know enough about this. I'm listening to podcasts like Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning. I'm finding the information I need and consuming it like a wildfire attack. Self compassion is one that is much harder to find but there are so many people that tell us, would you speak to yourself the way you do if you were talking to a friend. THAT hit the nail on the head for me. Through all of these tools and knowledge, I may be finding away to provide self compassion to myself.
So here is the thing, with anything you do, you have to give effort. Awareness takes time, seeking knowledge takes time, but effort? Effort takes ACTION. That's when you have to know a plan of action to provide the jumping off point in having the awareness of when you need to provide yourself with self compassion and maybe when you need a different tool instead. So my initial effort was to practice meditation. When I can practice a self care routine every day, then I can use those same tools a lot easier when I need to be providing myself self compassion. So I had been practicing my morning self care routine for a long time and I had been getting some good practice in.
Well, a few weeks ago, I was having a rough day. You know one in which something negative was happening over and over and over that isn't in your control. The final last straw was receiving an email that just sent me over the edge because it was obviously accusing me of doing something wrong which result in those feelings of why can't i just be perfect and do things right. I thought, this is when I need to practice my breathing so I worked on doing that. The feelings were not going away. So I tried a different tool I use, Journaling. I wrote down all the bad things that were happening and then followed it up with a solution or a way for me to provide that self compassion I needed. Within 10-15 minutes, those feelings of not being good enough vanished and I was able to let go of it. What a breakthrough!
Obstacles are inevitable. We will all suffer in life and we will all have things happen that we don't control and sometimes we do control it but don't make the best decisions for whatever reasons. Do you think I will likely ever not feel like I need to be perfect? Do you ever think I will just suddenly stop feeling like I'm not enough? It's not likely. It might become less and less with time and practice but those feelings are probably going to arise occasionally. That's my obstacle. When I know I will have that obstacle and I know I will need to use self compassion. I've create the process of providing that for myself when something isn't happening to my expectations. I throw in that thought, "If I was talking to my friend, what would I say to her" And then start talking to myself in that manner.
When you can practice self compassion for yourself, you can also show compassion for others. It's like a two fold situation. Because I may have experienced the same thing as someone else and I showed compassion with myself, then I can in return show compassion to someone else. The opposite is also true, like having compassion for those that are experiencing grief and now that I am experiencing it, I have been giving myself more compassion about not being perfect because I am not able to give of myself as much during this grieving process. So having empathy and self compassion go hand in hand.
What's the difference between Self Compassion and Self Kindness?
Self-compassion and self-kindness are related concepts but have subtle differences: Self-compassion encompasses a broader range of emotions and attitudes. It involves not only being kind and understanding toward oneself but also involves acknowledging and validating one's own suffering and difficulties. It's about treating oneself with the same care and concern that one would offer to a good friend in times of pain or struggle. Psychologist Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in self-compassion, defines it with three core components: self-kindness (being warm and understanding toward oneself), common humanity (recognizing that suffering is a universal human experience), and mindfulness (holding one's experience in balanced awareness). Self-compassion is often emphasized during challenging or difficult times. It encourages individuals to be gentle with themselves when they face setbacks, failures, or emotional distress.
So, Self-kindness is one of the components of self-compassion. It specifically refers to treating oneself with warmth, care, and understanding, much like how one would treat a dear friend. Self-kindness involves being gentle and forgiving toward oneself, especially when making mistakes or facing difficulties. It's about avoiding self-criticism and self-judgment. Practicing self-kindness often includes positive self-talk and affirmations. It's about countering negative self-talk and inner criticism with self-supportive and encouraging language.
While self-compassion is a broader concept that encompasses self-kindness as one of its components. self-kindness focuses on being kind, gentle, and forgiving toward oneself, self-compassion goes further by also acknowledging the shared human experience of suffering and embracing mindfulness in how one relates to their own challenges and emotions.
The benefits of self-compassion have been life-changing. I experienced a newfound sense of peace, reduced anxiety, and improved self-esteem. My overall well-being improved in ways I couldn't have imagined. When I start to experience those feelings of perfectionism or a lack there of or that I may have done something wrong or I knew what to do and then didn't, I focus on the skills I've learned and the actions I've practiced to reap all the benefits that self compassion offers. If you want to be more peaceful, have less anxiety, and improve your self-esteem, work towards practicing self compassion.It became clear to me that I needed to share my self-compassion journey with others. My motivation was to help individuals like you embark on their own paths to self-compassion. In doing so, I created a series called Master Your Moment and it includes six practices that can help you with a variety of skills to personal growth including self-compassion. These include meditations, visualizations, writing prompts, exercises for your physical health, links to videos about the topics, and affirmations. If you'd like a free guide, you can go to my main page. I also have a 14 day FREE trial that provides access to the whole program that is currently on Sale until November 30th.
The response from those who've joined me on this journey has been incredibly rewarding. I've received messages from people sharing how they've been inspired to practice self-compassion and witnessed transformative changes in their lives. I host these Wellness Workshop events and received the kindest message from one of my participants the other day. He said " I really enjoyed last night! You did a great job of leading us into some deep topics in an inviting and clam way. When I drove back to Tupelo, I felt refreshed. you are the best kind of leader: someone who helps people see that they can do things they never thought they could do before." When I need some more self compassion, it's easy to think of moments like this. When someone has celebrated me for helping them. It's what I LIVE for!! Just like they say on Naked and Afraid except I don't live to be naked or afraid. HA!
One of the next steps in showing self compassion is also recognizing having gratitude for the people who have shown you compassion. My boss from a year ago left to become superintendent of the school district and we had worked together for over 10 years. You go through a lot in 10 years and as the only school counselor, I had to form a close and positive working relationship with him. I am so grateful for his compassion with me when I wasn't perfect. He was always understanding, listening, and recognized that I need that compassion to grow and become the person I am now. Without his guidance and his support, I don't know if I would be as self compassionate as I am today. So who is someone in your life that you are grateful for having the experience to help guide and show you self compassion? To everyone reading, I want to say: YOU can embark on your own journey to self-compassion. It's never too late, and you're never alone in this. Take that first step, and you'll be amazed at the positive changes it can bring. If you want to chat more about self compassion or get more guidance about other topics related to personal growth or self care, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to DM me on facebook or instagram. Don't hesitate to reach out as my goal is to be as helpful to you as possible. My self-compassion journey has been a transformational one. I encourage you to begin your own journey today. Let's support each other along the way. I have an amazing FREE Master Your Moment Guidebook to help you get started today!