Self patience and mindful self compassion are two traits that can go a long way with fostering self love and healing. It can be challenging for many people to naturally come across self compassion, especially those who experienced abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma during childhood or throughout life. The path to self compassion isn’t always an easy one, but it’s worth working towards so you can have the loving and kind relationship with yourself that you deserve.
What is Self Compassion?
Self compassion involves showing yourself kindness, warmth, understanding, and sympathy when you are experiencing difficult emotions, life challenges, or feel inadequate. We are often taught during childhood to show compassion towards others; however, many are seldom taught how to develop that same level of sympathy and sensitivity towards ourselves.
Self compassion combines the skills of emotional regulation and understanding towards ourselves, and ultimately treating yourself the same way you would treat a friend or loved one. A specific type of self compassion, Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) developed by Chris Germer, is a form of self compassion that teaches the concept that compassion already lies within each person, it’s just about learning how to access that compassion and choose it over the urge to slip into harsh self-criticism.
The Emotional & Physical Benefits of Self Compassion
Research shows that those who have high levels of self compassion are more likely to healthily cope and process negative events. Those with lower levels of self compassion tend to struggle a bit more with guilt, shame, and self blame.
Emotionally, having compassion for yourself can have benefits to your emotional and psychological help. Those benefits can include strengthening resilience, increase emotional intelligence, build stronger connections with others, decrease depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, and improvements to motivation due to not fearing the prospect of making mistakes.
You might be surprised to learn that developing self compassion can also come with benefits towards your physical health as well. Emotional pain and repressed emotions have the ability to get stored in the body. This has the ability to lead to chronic pain, sore muscles, migraines, and more medical ailments that many often don’t know are connected to unaddressed emotional pain.
There is very little risk and high reward when it comes to releasing yourself from self shame and mindfully transform to a state of self compassion. That’s not to say it isn’t a difficult process, but it’s one that is worth it emotionally and physically in the long run.
How to Develop More Self Compassion
If self compassion doesn’t come easy for you, that doesn’t mean it’s something you are inherently without. You might think of self compassion as a muscle that needs exercising to grow stringer. As you become more well versed with choosing self compassion, that muscle can becomes stronger and stronger over time.
Acknowledge your inner voice
Your inner voice can be a helpful gauge to know if you lean more towards self compassion or self criticism. When you make a simple mistake, what does your inner voice say? Does it tell you that it’s okay and it was an honest mistake you can correct? Or does it tell you that you are a failure and can’t do anything right? If the latter sounds familiar, you might want to spend time unpacking where that voice stems from and why that voice is so critical.
Reframe negative thoughts
When negative thoughts ensue, what would it be like to reframe them? Using the previous example, if your inner voice tells you that you are a failure for making a simple mistake, how can you combat that negative messaging? You could challenge that voice and push back with something like, “I am human and will make mistakes just like everyone else. It doesn’t mean I am a failure.” As often as you can when negative thoughts come up, challenge them and see if you notice a shift.
Tend to your inner child and reparent yourself
We aren’t born hating ourselves, so those negative thought and messaging have to come from someone else. Asa child, you might have had a critical parent, experienced bullying, or had someone in your life verbally or non verbally communicate that you don’t deserve compassion. If this is the case, you may find solace in reparenting yourself, teaching yourself compassion, and giving yourself that compassion that you deserve but maybe didn’t receive during your formative years.
Journal and workbook exercises
There are many benefits of self reflection via journaling and workbooks when it comes to improving mental health. Taking some time to journal your thoughts and feelings can help process your emotions and work towards self compassion.
You might also try a workbook catered to developing self compassion. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer could be a great resource is you are looking for more structure around developing and strengthening self compassion.
Joel is a grammy-nominated songwriter, certified meditation teacher, life coach, and creator of the R.I.S.E. Journal. R.I.S.E. stands for Release, Inquire, Self-Awareness, Empower. This practice reconnects practitioners to their truth by infusing meditation, asking “heart questions,” and deep listening into a modality that Joel calls meditative journaling.
Joel has committed his life to be a conduit for grounding, healing, and transformation. He uses music, poetry, and meditation, to create a safe space to feel, heal, and grow in self-awareness.
Joel Cross grew up in Cleburne, Texas singing gospel songs with his seven siblings. At the age of twelve, he fell in love with the guitar. He was self-taught, finding inspiration in gospel, soul, classical, and r&b. In 2003, he began to study jazz at the University of Houston. There, he learned the traditions of improvisation and bebop. His influences were Grant Green, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, and Joe Pass.
In 2006, he transferred to the University of North Texas in Denton where he finished his performance degree in Jazz Studies. Though his formal education was focused on guitar, Joel was always inspired by creating new music and telling stories that brought the listener in. His heartfelt approach showcased his ability to make each piece his own.
One afternoon, while playing a show in Dallas, Joel decided to appease the crowd’s unconventional request for a song by Taylor Swift. A fan happened to catch his very soulful rendition of “Shake it Off” on video and uploaded it to YouTube. By the next morning, it had over half a million views and Joel’s face was on every major news source in Dallas. The viral video quickly catapulted his career as he captured the attention of fans across the globe, including Ellen DeGeneres, America’s Got Talent, Capitol Records, Time, and MTV. Four-time Grammy award-winning artist, India Arie, was also intrigued by Joel when she heard one of his original songs, “Candlelight,” and invited him to collaborate with her. In 2017 that album, Songversation: Medicine was nominated for a Grammy, Best New Age Album. Joel collaborated with India in 2019 for her album Worthy, co-writing and playing guitar on several songs.
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