The Art of Self-Compassion & Why It’s Important
Self-compassion is an incredible tool for resilience – and all the more important as we begin to emerge, tentatively, from the coronavirus pandemic. We share why, and offer some of our favourite resources and tips for building self-compassion.
This time last year many of us were feeling in limbo due to the pandemic, wondering when it would all be over. Now we are beginning to see the light, and even to make tentative plans.
We’ve come a long way!
Yet some of us are still grieving losses, negotiating transitions or relocations, or facing other post-pandemic challenges. You may even find yourself feeling unsettled about returning to normal (and wondering what “normal” means!). Now, more than ever, is the time for compassion, both for yourself and for others.
Self-compassion means relating to yourself with kindness. Having self-compassion involves treating yourself with care and understanding when you’re having a hard time – just as you would with a good friend. This habit can be especially helpful as we adapt to what some are describing as “COVID-normal” life.
Benefits of self-compassion
Research shows that negative, self-critical reactions can paralyze us, while habitual self-compassionate responses can help us “dust ourselves off, learn from the experience and move forward”, says Carrie Adair, assistant director for the Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality, in this article.
Another study suggests that more self-compassionate employees were better able to cope with their feelings of work loneliness brought on by the pandemic (as so many of us have been working under isolating and challenging conditions).
How to cultivate self-compassion: tips and resources
- Empathy: I Hear You, I Understand, and You Are Not Alone: explores the value of having empathy both for ourselves and for others.
- Self-Compassion: What Is It, Why Do I Need It, and How Can I Do It?: key aspects of self-compassion (mindfulness, self-kindness and connectedness) and some simple tips to incorporate more self-compassion into your life.
- 5 Exercises to Help You Nurture Self-Compassion: why self-compassionate people tend to have better emotional coping skills, plus some creative exercises to try yourself.
- Be the Hero in Your Life: Ways to Build Resilience: more ways to support yourself from within, by positively developing your thoughts and actions.
- Feeling Safe in Your Relationships: why understanding your “route(s) of safety” is so helpful, especially in your relationships.
- Developing Global Compassion: the Dalai Lama and psychologist Paul Ekman take a deep dive into the meaning and importance of compassion in this video series.
- Using Essential Oils to Lift Your Mood: one of nature’s feel-good ways to care for yourself.
- Many studies suggest that compassion is a key outcome of meditation. Developed by psychologists and educators, the Smiling Mind app offers daily meditations to help you build a regular meditation practice.
- These free guided exercises are specifically aimed at self-compassion: Mindful Self-Compassion Training with Chris Germer and Self-Compassion Meditations with Dr Kristin Neff.
The beauty of self-compassion is that it’s already within you! Treating yourself with the same attentiveness and care you would a friend can be a wonderful source of resilience. It’s something you can keep strengthening, with practice, and it’s a resource that’s always available to you.
Feel free to share this article with a friend who would appreciate your gesture of kindness.
PHOTO: Hassan Ouajbir/Pexels