Sometimes the biggest enemy in the room is ourselves. Whenever we mess up a task or fail to meet someone’s expectation, we can take it to heart and the overthinking can eat us alive. Asking ourselves how we could’ve made such a rookie mistake and then dwelling on it for an unnatural amount of time. We often talk about having compassion for others, but what about when it’s time to focus on ourselves? Let’s talk about what self-compassion is and how it can help us.

To begin to build resilience and achieve our goals, we need to have an inner ally and friend, not the inner bully many of us experience. Self-compassion helps us make this vitally important shift in our thought processes so we can show up for ourselves, just as much as we show up for others.

Tip No. 1: Notice when you’re struggling or going through something hard.

Many of us can be very compassionate toward others, but just the opposite toward ourselves. Simply noticing when we’re the one who is going through something difficult can help remind us that we deserve compassion too. Be honest with yourself, reach out to a trusted friend or mentor, and let them know that you’re struggling in an area of your life. We’re not machines, we’re not always going to be killing it at school, work or parenthood. There are people in your corner who want to see you succeed, trust me.

Tip No. 2: Especially during the pandemic, remind yourself that what you’re experiencing is difficult.

The pandemic has created hardship for many of us, from fears about contagion to the demands of childrearing, to shifts in our roles at work. This is on top of most of us spending almost two whole years being inside and socially distancing. Yes, the concerts might be back and planes are taking off again, but it’s not the same. Simply taking time at least once a week to pause and remind oneself of the fact that this truly has been an unprecedented time in our lives can help us see that we need to be kind, gentle and patient with ourselves.

Tip No. 3: Remind yourself that self-compassion isn’t selfish.

When people hear “self-compassion” they may think it’s selfish or just some sort of self-indulgent pity party. When you think about it, however, you begin to see that all the self-criticism we can find ourselves engaging in is actually pretty self-centered! With self-compassion, we’re actually acknowledging the reality that we all have challenges, we all suffer. Far from being self-indulgent, self-compassion helps us realize the shared human experience we’re all a part of. Therefore, don’t be afraid to say no to people and invitations. Stay home on a Friday night to do what you want to do: take a relaxing bath, meditate and order your favorite Chinese food for a night of saying yes to yourself!

Tip No. 4: When you notice that you’re being hard on yourself, push yourself to say something kind to yourself.

To reverse patterns of self-criticism, we have to bring mindful awareness to this pattern. Once we do, the key step is going out of our way to bring kindness to ourselves. We can place a hand over the area of our heart and tell ourselves the same kind words we would say to someone we loved who was going through something difficult. Some phrases that you might consider saying to yourself are:

  • I’m human, I make mistakes, but I try to better myself every day and that’s what matters most.
  • Change is hard, but it’s easier if I stop being hard on myself.
  • My mistakes don’t mean that I’ve failed. They show that I’m a human being who is growing and learning.
  • It’s OK to forgive myself. I’m worthy of love and care.
  • I’m free to let go of others’ judgments and unwelcomed opinions.

By incorporating these tips into our everyday lives, we can start to truly live the lives that we were meant to live. Doing so can free us from the crippling negative thoughts that can discourage us from doing what we love and enjoy. Self-compassion is for everyone, no matter how young or old, rich or poor. We all deserve to live healthy lives, full of abundance and full of kindness to ourselves as well as to others.