February is the month of love, right? I mean every store I go into tells me all about love and how to express it to that special someone. I can appreciate that. I mean, I do have a special someone. I do want him to know that I love him. Though, I can’t help but think about that other special someone we all have. That person who has been with us since the beginning and will be with us till the end. That person we talk to all day. That person who never leaves us. Ourselves. We never are without ourselves. We are with us all day long and sometimes frankly it seems we aren’t that kind us. We spend a lot more time telling others how we love them and expressing kindness and caring to others. That isn’t a bad thing. To be compassionate and caring are wonderful qualities but does make you think about how we treat ourselves. I mean it does beg the question: How am I loving me?
Do you ever tell yourself you love you? Be honest. What about how great you are at things? Or what about that awesome thing you body did for you today? Honestly, can you remember the last time you were kind to yourself? When is the last time you showed yourself compassion?
If I’m being honest this wasn’t really on my radar several years ago. I didn’t get it. I mean as a social work student and newbie social worker I got the concept of positive self-talk and self-esteem but to apply truly being kind to me and to not be critical and judgmental. To be compassionate about my short-comings and celebrate the things that I did well. Nope, I didn’t get it. I always thought I had to be pushing myself further and the thought of giving myself a break? What would that possible do? (Insert eye roll here)
I’m grateful that the concept of self-compassion was introduced to me. I’m grateful that I’ve been able embrace self-kindness and self-compassion which has allowed me to begin embracing myself. Am I “perfect” at it? No, because we aren’t meant to be perfect. We are meant to be imperfect beings. That statement is itself a practice of self-compassion. That I am not perfect and that is perfectly ok.
Dr. Kristen Neff from The University of Texas Austin defines self-compassion as “Self-compassion is extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering”. She has determined that self-compassion is composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
When we extend ourselves self-kindness we move away from self-judgement. When we connect with a knowing that we aren’t the only ones who have ever felt a certain way we feel less alone. Mindfulness allows us to bring our emotions into balance and to move away from rumination. The very act of self-compassion allows us to accept ourselves. All of which have been proven to improve our over all health and wellbeing.
I have never met someone who doesn’t want to feel better, but I know it can feel overwhelming with where to start. I usually begin by suggesting to start with how you talk to yourself. We all have a caregiver voice its how we speak to those we love with love, so start there. When you find yourself using your inner voice check in, and ask “would I talk to _____________that this” You can fill in the blank with anyone you love: a child, a parent, a significant other, or a friend anyone really. If you the answer is no I wouldn’t talk like this to them then don’t do it to yourself. Take one more step further and then replace what you were going to say to yourself with what you would say to someone you love in the same situation.
When we can begin speaking and extending ourselves self-kindness we allow ourselves to begin really viewing ourselves as someone worthy of love and respect. Moving us that much quicker towards self-compassion.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.