How to make self-compassion work


Photo by Chungkuk Bae on

Photo by Chungkuk Bae on

When you are going through a difficult time and things aren’t going well for you – stress levels can go up. At times like these, having self-compassion can help build resilience and assist in success. At such times, we can also be prone to self-criticism and negative self worth which can have a stronger effect.  How can develop greater self-compassion?

What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion is a combination of mindful awareness, self-kindness and a recognition of our common humanity.  This human connection helps us to see we are worthy of receiving kindness even if we are going through pain or guilt. Self-compassion’s link to mental well-being is through things like less stress, anxiety, depression and perfectionism.

How does self-compassion work?
Self compassion soothes us when we fail. It works to modify our responses to failure or difficulty and the incumbent changes that accompany them. It does not mean that there is no negativity or emotional impact. Relating to them instead of avoiding them creates well-being.

Self-compassion relies on recognising that all people have similarities and differences. All people can run negative scripts that we think are true. If we recognise this as part of the human condition, we can also recognise that we are worthy of receiving kindness.

What happens when negative self-talk prevails?
In research for her book, How we work Leah Weiss (2018) says self criticism can lead to depression, avoidance behaviours, loss of self-esteem, negative perfectionism, procrastination and rumination. This can result in compromised goals and undermines efforts in all aspects of life.

Weiss (2018) provides practical ideas for how to develop self-compassion and strategies for managing negative self-talk.

  • Find soothing techniques that work for you
    Find a way to tell yourself phrases like: This is a difficult time. It is part of life. May I be kind to myself. May I give myself the compassion I need.If that does not work for you, find some activity that “soothes” – like taking a walk, treating yourself to a break, listening to favourite music. Find words that sit well with you and that feel right. Choose words that are kind and good for your psyche.
  • Be a friend to yourself
    When you are caught in a difficult situation, try to think what you would say to a friend who was in the same situation. How would you respond to them? Now direct those same ideas, words and responses toward yourself.Think of this as a self-coaching exercise. Don’t abandon yourself. Be your own best support.
  • Ask for help
    Asking a friend or colleague for help is a way of being compassionate to yourself. Take a chance. Reach out to someone you trust and can rely on. Not only is a problem shared is often a problem halved, sharing can also deepen a connection with someone else.

Research has demonstrated time and again, self-compassion helps us to better reach our goals and cooperate with, learn from, and lead others.
~ Leah Weiss

What helps you master negative self-talk and promote self-compassion?

Weiss, Leah. 2018. How to Bring Self Compassion to Work with You, Greater Good Magazine, 15 March 2018.

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