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Self-Compassion 101: The Importance of Being Kind to Yourself

The concept self-compassion has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Buddhist thought. In recent years it’s become more mainstream in the Western world, but what exactly is it? And more importantly, why do we need it?

Self-compassion is defined as an attitude of treating oneself with kindness, warmth, and understanding, especially in difficult times. It has three main components:

  • Self-kindness: Being caring, understanding, and comforting to ourselves rather than critical or judgmental.
  • Common humanity: Recognizing that everyone makes mistakes, and that this is a shared human experience.
  • Mindfulness: Being aware of the present moment, rather than ignoring or ruminating on aspects of one’s life that they dislike.

The Benefits

Self-compassion has many benefits! Research has shown that it’s strongly associated with improved health and wellbeing.

Biologically, it makes us feel safe and secure. It deactivates the body’s threat system and releases chemicals (like oxytocin) that help reduce stress and increase positive feelings. It’s a physiological way of self-soothing! In addition, self-compassion decreases feelings of anxiety, depression, and fears of failure, while increasing one’s self-esteem, contentment, and connectedness.

Self-compassion is the active desire for positive health and wellbeing, It creates a greater sense of self-worth when people care about themselves. When a person takes self-criticism and judgment out of the picture, they are more able to admit mistakes, make necessary changes, and face challenges head on. Self compassion also helps people develop a growth mindset, increasing motivation, resilience, and overall life satisfaction.

Tips for Practicing Self-Compassion

If you find yourself being overly self-critical, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Self compassion isn’t something we are born with. It requires effort and practice. Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Journaling
  • Scheduled self-compassion breaks
  • Self-acceptance statements challenging your inner critic
  • Writing yourself a caring letter
  • Practicing mindfulness

No matter which methods you choose, it’s important to recognize that self compassion isn’t selfish, weak, or self-indulgent. It’s a statement to yourself and the world that you deserve as much care and kindness as everyone else. Turning compassion inward will not only benefit you, but those around you as well.

The Takeaway Message: Self-compassion leads to positive changes in long term health and overall wellbeing, so remember to be as kind to yourself as you would to a friend.

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