“What does self-compassion mean to you?” This is the very question I asked to the various hard-working mothers, dedicated career women, and longtime respected friends, that are a part of my life. I received responses such as; “putting myself first, not putting myself down, or belittling myself,” and things like “being kind to myself, accepting failure, loving myself,” and even “loving yourself for who you are, accepting where you are, and trusting your intuition will lead you in the right direction.” There seemed to be one common theme among all of the responses: the belief that self-compassion equates to “loving yourself” and accepting wherever you may be in life. While this may seem simple at first, the truth is that it can be very challenging to actually practice self-compassion in the moment, especially during times of lifestyle change.
Think about the last time you set a goal for yourself, whether that be to lose weight, start a new exercise routine, or making a commitment to start a new stress reduction technique. The first week your motivation may have been through the roof, then suddenly life got in the way and you were unable to continue to focus on your goal. How did you react? Did you feel frustrated with yourself and give up? Or, did you convince yourself you weren’t worth taking the personal time to achieve the goal? How we treat ourselves when we make mistakes can seriously affect our self-esteem, health, ability to overcome challenges, and even relationships. Research has shown that those who are able to take a step back from a perceived negative situation and be kind to themselves, are less likely to develop anxiety or depression.1
But, how do we forgive and comfort ourselves during difficult times and learn to be a more self-compassionate person? Set a goal worth achieving, invest the time and energy it takes to reach your goal, be ambitious, and accept that you are worth it and can do whatever you put your mind to. Here are 5 tips for becoming a more self-compassionate person during lifestyle change: accept imperfection, adopt positive thinking, practice mindfulness through meditation, and practice self-care. The idea of compassion meditation has been linked to reductions in anger toward oneself, increased coping skills, and the ability to continue working toward achievement of a goal even after unsuccessful attempts.2 To learn more about how to become a more self-compassionate person during lifestyle change, view this handout that includes 5 easy tips for success.
- Positive Psychology. 4 ways to boost your self-compassion. Website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/4-ways-to-boost-your-self-compassion. Harvard Health Publishing. Published 2013. Accessed November 3, 2018.
- Hoffman S, Grossman P, Hinton D. Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: potential for psychological interventions. Clinical Psychology Review. 2011; 31: 1126-1132.