“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ~Christopher Germer.
What do you think? Is this cheesy or true? How self-compassionate are you?(you can find out here, if you don’t know).
As someone who likes to think of myself as an independent high achiever, this isn’t my favorite topic of discussion. I cringed when I first read that quote, years ago. But this week we’re discussing self compassion in my “Living on Purpose” class, and it’s got me thinking — I ought to do more work myself. Apart from me, there are many others out there who would benefit from it, too. I would venture to say this is a rampant issue in society among my fellow college students, running teammates, personal training clients, and peers.
Why? This infographic highlights it well.
Among other things, a high sense of self-compassion allows us to feel worthy, overcome obstacles, experience less stress and greater well-being and be more successful in daily life.
Lack of it leads to feelings of anxiety, isolation, low self-worth — and is even linked to depression, low body image and eating disorders.
In our society, we’ve been raised to be independent, high achieving, competitive, all-star individuals. This instills a sense of obligation, high expectations and an underlying sense of “never good enough.”
For some, these beliefs have been enhanced by parents, teachers and those around us — always telling us to be better. They may be kindly worded (and hopefully they are); but regardless of what others say, we are most susceptible to our own thoughts, and reminded of them whenever we fail to live up to these high standards we’ve created for ourselves.
In turn, more and more students feel isolated, anxious, stressed and pressured to exceed expectations, and crumble when they don’t. It isn’t just students though — these thought patterns carry into relationships, athletics, careers and life after college.
It shows… thinking negatively and being hard on ourselves is doing us more harm than good.
So, how can you cultivate more self-compassion?
- Remind yourself that everyone else goes through hard times sometimes (every day, really). Regardless of how alone you feel, know that someone out there has struggled through the same thing.
- Remove yourself of “should’s.” Telling ourselves “I should be better at this” or “I shouldn’t be feeling this” makes it unacceptable. Take out a sheet of paper and complete the following sentence “I should…” with as many should’s as you feel necessary. Now go back through that list and examine it. Where was this “should” derived from? How you can get rid of it?
- Put yourself in a friend’s shoes. If your friend was going through the same problem, what would you tell them? Looking at your own struggle objectively can help change your self-talk.
- Practice yoga, mindfulness or meditation. It doesn’t have to be woo-woo. Just 10 minutes a day goes a long way.
- Take time to relax, reconnect with yourself, and remind yourself of reasons that you are enough.
- Follow these additional 10 Ways to Cultivate Self-Compassion.