While listening to The Mindful Kind podcast, the host briefly mentioned self-compassion. I remember not giving this term much thought. I figured self-compassion was similar to self-care or being gentle with ourselves, but as Rachael, the host, touched more and more on self-compassion, I recognized it as something entirely different. Self-compassion is loving ourselves unconditionally and not only validating our own feelings but redirecting our harsh words to softer, kinder words. When we are self-compassionate, we become our own support system and allow ourselves to reach for joy. Over the past few days, I've come to realize that rarely am I self-compassionate to myself.
We love chasing goals, being the best we can be, making the most of our days, being a completely selfless partner in our relationship. However, when we are consistently striving for these big goals, we may often fail these goals, since we are not superhumans, and end up partaking in negative thinking or even punishment. If we miss a workout, we may avoid food so we don't gain weight. If we are told something hurtful, we may retreat into ourselves and allow it to fester in us, avoiding social contact and pushing out the people we love. Of course, these are worst-case scenarios, but they can occur is self-love isn't present.
When we introduce self-compassion into our lives, we can work to find positive solutions and gentle nudges to get ourselves out of that negative spiral and back to work. We can give ourselves rest when we need it without beating ourselves up and tune into what we really want and how we really feel without judgment.
A few nights ago, I was in an odd mood. I was sore, so I gave myself the day to rest, and although I got up early, completed a lovely morning routine, completed all my work assignments, and wrote up my newsletter, I didn't feel like I did enough. I had eaten bread and cheese and alfredo pasta and played lots of video games and didn't complete all my chores. My "I didn't do" list grew and grew until I came to the wild conclusion that I wasted the day. When Jared came over to eat dinner with me and relax, I didn't feel like I was allowed to relax, finding more and more to do and feeling frustrated.
I sat down and journaled. I wrote down what I was feeling and looked at it all from an outsider. Man, did my problems seem small. I took each issue and reworked them. I reminded myself of all that I did do, which was so much more than I realized. I allowed myself to let go of judgment and fed myself kind, assuring words such as, "I am enough" and "I am organized and productive". Then, I was able to return to Jared and enjoy my time with him.
Only a few moments ago did I realize I had practiced self-compassion that night. Rather than sit around and feel sorry for myself or even push myself to do more, I accepted exactly where I was and gave myself the rest of the evening to relax. Now that I know how much self-compassion helped me get rid of judgments, I couldn't wait to sit down and write to each and every one of y'all.
6 ways to be more self-compassionate
1. Write down your negative thoughts before they expand
When we write out our feelings and thoughts and get them onto paper, they seem smaller and may be easier to sort out. Rather than allow our anger, sadness or any other emotion overtake us, we can write down exactly what we're feeling and look at the situation as an outsider. Maybe, just maybe, the issues at hand aren't as bad as they seem.
Of course, it's important to truly feel the emotions and avoid pushing them down, but we shouldn't allow the feelings to linger for longer than they need to. And, when we do write out our feelings, it's important not to judge them and allow them to be as they are on the page. Instead, try to find simple solutions for each issue and reframe your thoughts. Doing this helped me see my current situation in a new light and stopped me from continuing with my harsh thoughts.
2. Look at each situation and action without judgment
I mentioned this in the first tip, but it's so important to look at our situations, actions, and simply ourselves without judgment. If you slept in, rather than rush to, "I wasted the morning, I'm so lazy, I'm going to be late, etc.", make a note that you slept in, and simply move on by figuring out what you can do, not what you can't. It's easier said than done, but calling yourself names and being angry at yourself won't help in the long run and will probably only make you feel worse.
An example of this happened today, actually. I was asked to teach lessons this afternoon, but I didn't want to drive 40 minutes to teach a quick lesson. I wanted to relax and write this post since I haven't had an ounce of free time in about five days. I told her "no", which was really hard for me. Instantly, I felt terrible and even moments ago, I found myself thinking, "I should've done the lesson today, but instead I watched HGTV. I'm so lazy!" I paused and not only reframed the situation by reminding myself that I needed rest, but I told myself that saying "no" is okay. I only teach lessons on the weekends, anyway, and during the week simply isn't an option.
When we change our perception when it comes to our own decisions, and take away judgment, we can really tune in to how we feel and allow ourselves to fully enjoy each decision.
3. Don't be afraid to take breaks
I took a break from my blog, as well as posting on Instagram. You may have noticed, or not. But, I didn't post at all this past week. First, I was really busy late last week and into this past weekend and literally didn't have time to write. Second, I didn't want to. I felt burnt-out and out of fresh ideas. So, I took a break, without judgment, for my own well-being.
It's okay to take breaks from absolutely anything if you need them. Breaks can be refreshing and are a great way to get your mind in the right headspace. While I felt guilty for not writing, I didn't allow the guilt to linger. I thanked it and sent it on its way.
This same thing goes for self-care and spending time alone. It's perfectly okay to say "no" for your own health. Carve out some time for self-care, or to do nothing but enjoy your own company, and enjoy every moment of it. Consistently return to how you feel.
For more on this, check out my post Why it's important to stop giving so much of yourself.
4. Choose 3-5 daily habits, and once they are completed, you can relax
My friend Carson over at www.carsonarnett.com told me something life-changing the other day when I mentioned I felt like I wasn't doing enough and felt lazy, a normal struggle of mine. He told me to choose 5 habits to do every day, and once those are completed, feel proud of what you did, and enjoy the rest of the day. So, that's exactly what I started doing. They can be small habits, too, like stretching, taking vitamins, and working toward a passion project for a short amount of time. Once you've done those, it doesn't matter if you're still in your pajamas--you ruled the day!
Doing this helps me to stop myself from fearing that I'm not doing enough, or if I'm wasting time. Instead, I can remind myself that I completed my 5 habits, therefore I did enough. I did more than enough. Rather than feel bad for all that you didn't do, return to what you did do, and fully embrace it.
5. Compliment yourself
This may be a generic tip, but complimenting yourself is an amazing thing. You don't need anyone else to give you love and validation you desire--you can do it all on your own. You look amazing in that dress, and your body is exactly as it should be. Throughout the day, give yourself little compliments, just like that, and really acknowledge your inner and outer beauty, because it is there. Maybe spend a few moments in front of a mirror, listing all of your amazing characteristics out loud. Or, maybe write them down and put them up somewhere you can see every day.
Compliment yourself. Love on yourself. Make yourself feel seen and valued.
For more on this, check out my most recent post, 5 ways to be more self-motivated & get things done.
6. Spend time doing things that you love and that are good for you
While sitting around watching HGTV is a fun and unwinding experience, getting up and doing things that we not only equally enjoy but are good for us is even better. Don't get me wrong, of course--I love chilling out and watching TV. But, when we actively take care of our mental and physical health, we are directly being self-compassionate. Take time to reach for hobbies and activities that are good for your health, like journaling, learning something new, going on a walk, meditating, or anything that'll benefit you in some way. And choose an activity that you truly enjoy. For me, that's reading self-help books or getting up to exercise. Maybe incorporate mindfulness into this hobby so that you're unwinding while also engaging in something. For some mindfulness exercises, read this post here.
It's important to do things that we love and that make us happy, but it's equally important to put away those electronics and get out into the world. When we treat ourselves well, we will feel well. For more on this topic, check out my post, How to avoid toxic self-care & 6 ACTUALLY HEALTHY self-care ideas.
I hope you enjoyed this post and have taken away something. I challenge you to make the rest of this week the most self-loving week ever and take it easy on yourself. You deserve it, truly.