We often focus on expressing our love to and for others, but what about being compassionate and loving to yourself?
Self-compassion is caring for yourself in the hard moments instead of judging and criticizing yourself for not being enough, doing enough, or having enough. It means you are kind and understanding when confronted with a personal failure. As self-compassion researcher, Dr. Kristin Neff says, “its self-kindness, not self-judgment”.
According to Neff, about 75 percent of people who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others score very low on self-compassion tests and are not very nice to themselves.
All human beings deserve compassion and understanding. That includes you too!
But why is it important to be nicer to yourself?
Numerous studies have shown that self-compassion is strongly linked to overall well-being. Research shows that being more compassionate towards yourself builds resilience when things go wrong.
A recent study published in the journal, Health Psychology, found that women who scored highest on the self-compassion scale had thinner carotid artery walls and less plaque buildup compared to women with lower scores of self-kindness. These two conditions are linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. These findings showed up as significant even after accounting for common lifestyle and psychological factors associated with heart disease, such as smoking, depressive symptoms, and minimal exercise.
So, how can you be nicer to yourself? Here are 6 ways to start.
1: Notice how you talk to yourself. Are you constantly criticizing yourself? Would you talk to a friend the same way?
2: Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Not what others need, but what you need.
3: Lower your standards. You don’t always have to be “on”, ultra-prepared, or the best at everything (or anything). What are you currently doing that takes a lot of your energy but in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that important?
4: Who are you comparing yourself to and why? As Theodore Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy”. Looking to others for our definition of success and achievement distracts us from creating happiness and joy in our own lives. Plus, aren’t you comparing your life to their highlight reel?
5: Fully embrace yourself, perceived flaws and all. There’s no one out there like you. Once you embrace yourself as you are, it gives you the freedom to be yourself and live the life you want. Besides, you are good enough just as you are.
6: Try a loving-kindness meditation. This kind of meditation focuses on cultivating feelings of goodwill, kindness and compassion toward yourself and others. Those who regularly practice loving kindness meditation are able to increase their capacity for forgiveness, connection to others, self-acceptance, and more. You can find one HERE.
Being kind to yourself may take some work, but as you can see, you’re worth it!