Be kind to yourself: How self-compassion can improve your resiliency

By Charlene M. Martin Lillie

Self-compassion means accepting yourself as the imperfect person that you are. When you embrace the idea that you’ll never be perfect, you can accept that mistakes are an important part of your life’s journey that contribute to who you are. Being kinder to yourself also boosts your resiliency and makes you kinder and more compassionate toward others.

The average adult brain creates approximately 70,000 thoughts each day. If you could pay attention to all of them, what would they say? Chances are your brain doesn’t tell you how fantastic you look in those jeans, how brilliant your presentation was or what an amazing parent you are — that’s not how your brain is designed. The brain is designed to seek out threat, keep you safe from danger and protect you. As a result, your brain focuses on the negative:

How can you counteract this natural tendency toward the negative? One answer is self-compassion. This takes intention and effort. Try these three key concepts identified by self-compassion researcher Kristin D. Neff, Ph.D.:

Loving kindness meditation

If you’re not sure how to practice self-compassion, try a loving kindness meditation. Here’s one you can do alone or with a partner. Set aside five to 10 minutes each day to practice. Start by choosing a verbal affirmation that is meaningful to you. Here are some examples:

Next, sit comfortably in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Allow your spine to grow tall toward the ceiling, then relax your shoulders. Place your hands in a comfortable position that feels supportive. Take a few deep breaths. With full intention, repeat your chosen affirmation.

As you continue to practice, feel free to extend these well-wishes to others. It may feel awkward or even silly at first, but allow yourself to explore the idea.

Spend some time this week reflecting on the concept of self-compassion. Whether it’s a new concept for you or something you actively practice, there’s likely room for improvement. What challenges do you have? At what points in your life has it been particularly difficult to be kind to yourself? How can you prepare yourself to be more self-compassionate in the future?

Copied and acknowledgement from Dec. 30, 2016.