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Practicing Self-Compassion by Jade Caswell, MA

As we move into the month of February, many of us may be thinking about how we can

extend love to others. While this is a meaningful cause, it is too often that we may be

neglecting to extend the same love and self-compassion towards ourselves. Many of us are our

toughest critics, and often beat ourselves up over perceived mistakes and failures. In the long

term, negative self-talk can lead to poor self-image and low self-esteem. Understanding that we

have a choice to extend compassion and love towards ourselves, instead of criticism or harsh

judgements, is the first step towards cultivating positive self-esteem and unconditional positive

regard. You may be wondering -- how do I start my journey towards self-compassion? Please

read below for helpful tips!

1. Affirmations are a great way to practice speaking in a kind way towards ourselves, and

help to replace negative self-talk we may be accustomed to. Some popular ways to practice

affirmations include writing them down in a journal, on sticky notes, or reciting them in front of

a mirror.

Some example affirmations include:

 I accept all parts of myself

 It's okay to make mistakes, I am human

 I can accept my emotions, and show kindness towards myself

 I will not let limiting beliefs hold me back from discovering my true potential

 Change can be hard, but every new day is a chance for healing and growth

 Create your own!

2. As mentioned previously, it is often easiest to be our toughest critic. When we make a

mistake, we may say negative things to ourselves such as, "I will never be successful" or "I

always mess up". Being aware of these messages, we can take a step back and ask, "If my friend

made a similar mistake, would I tell them these things? Most people would not repeat the same

messages they repeat to themselves to a friend. Most likely, they would extend a supportive or

optimistic message to a friend. You deserve this kindness too!

3. Appreciating our physical body is also an important aspect of self-compassion. The

following somatic practice helps us tune into our body and breath, appreciate the body for its

functions, and extend comfort to ourselves. Begin by placing one hand over your heart, paying

attention to the rhythmic beating. Express gratitude to your heart for keeping you alive. Next,

start connecting with your breath by placing your other hand over your belly, noticing how it

rises and falls with each inhale and exhale. Stay here for a few minutes, expressing thanks to

your body and recognizing how it feels to extend this compassion towards yourself.

4. Reciting a loving kindness meditation is invaluable in learning to extend love and

kindness towards ourselves and others. There are many different scripts available for free

online, however, here is a link to one of my favorites:

Remember, learning self-compassion is like strengthening a muscle-- You wouldn't expect to

visit the gym in one visit and gain muscle. The same is true for attaining a sense of self-

compassion- practicing these interventions regularly will result in greatest benefit.

For greatest benefit, try practicing a few times a week, and seeing how your perspective on

yourself, others, and the world changes!


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