Accept and love yourself with all your beauty and imperfections. Be kind to your body and your soul. Embrace your feelings, tend to your needs with care and compassion. Only by loving yourself will you be able to love others. Dr. Kristin Neff
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about self-compassion. What does it mean to offer compassion to ourselves? I believe we are practicing self-compassion when we make the choice to be kinder to ourselves and remember we are human and worthy of love. To extend this level of grace to ourselves involves the choice to practice self-compassion when we make mistakes, or even when someone else is being hard on us. I’m not sure about you, but on this earthly journey, I struggle with being hard on myself, and I also worry about how others perceive me. But I am learning that the antidote to judgment, whether this judgment comes from an internal place or external one, is self-compassion. We must offer ourselves kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, and cut ourselves a break, even if others in our life don’t. A therapist I work with has a voice message that says, “Remember to treat yourself with kindness and give yourself an abundance of grace.” We are human and we will make mistakes and fall short on this journey. But our mistakes and imperfections are what it means to be alive and human and our fallibilities can actually be gifts that helps us to grow. So if we feel like we have said the wrong words or made a bad decision, we definitely want to learn from our mistakes, but we must also stop beating ourselves up and offer ourselves love and grace. We have to remind ourselves that we don’t have to be perfect. We are human and no matter what flaws or mistakes we have made, we are worthy of love and forgiveness.
I encourage you to consider recommitting yourself today to the practice of being kind to yourself through the thoughts you have about yourself and the words you speak out loud. Part of self-compassion is also about making time for ourselves. We not only need to have kind thoughts and words towards ourselves, but we must practice compassion for ourselves by making time for ourselves and remembering that we matter. Do you have a self-care practice? A self-care practice is simply making time each day for you by doing something you love! I enjoy journaling, walking, yoga, and spending time with loved ones. What makes you come alive?
I am a licensed therapist and so many people wrongly assume that I have the journey of self-love all figured out. But the truth is that self-compassion is hard work, and it is a life-long dance that we must all practice and commit ourselves to doing. Beyond being kind to myself and practicing self-care, I also know I experience a greater level of self-love when I admit my shortcomings with trusted loved ones. I find when I am vulnerable with my friends and family about my growing edges and mistakes (or perceived ones), then they too open up about their own struggles. And then after we commiserate about whatever trials we are facing, we often normalize to one another that we are human and then we affirm the need to be kinder and gentler with ourselves.
The best part of self-compassion, is that when we practice offering it to ourselves, it is usually easier to offer this kind of love and acceptance to others in our life. So when we start mindfully treating ourselves with love, this can serve as a barometer to how we treat others in our lives. Yesterday, I found myself being grumpy with a colleague and I realized I was being short with her because I had not practiced as much self-care and self-compassion in the past week as I usually do. So I believe there is a definitive correlation between how we treat ourselves and how we treat one another.
I invite you to bring the palm of one hand to your heart. Listen to the beat of your heart. Remind yourself that you matter. May this simple symbol serve as a tangible reminder to be kind to yourself. Tend to your heart in the day ahead by offering yourself love and grace. Perhaps say out loud:
In this day ahead, may I offer myself compassion. May I extend myself kindness and an abundance of grace. I am enough. I am worthy of love.
Let’s commit ourselves to the practice of self-compassion,