“I feel we need daily reminders that we are human,” says Kristen Butler in an interview with Audrey Lawrence, speaking to the importance of having compassion for yourself. It is common for us to criticize ourselves relentlessly anytime we fall short or make a blunder. Most of us dwell on our mistakes and pick apart all the decisions that resulted in it, falling into an endless cycle of self-beat-up that erodes our confidence and self-worth.
Now think about if the tables are turned. What if your friend, family member, or colleague slipped up? Would you keep reminding them of their mistakes as well? Picking apart every action they took? Probably not. Instead, you would likely say something to boost their mood, offer another perspective, or remind them there is no point in wasting time over something that’s already happened that they cannot change. So, why deny yourself the same compassion you would give to the people close to you?
What Is Self-Compassion Really?
It definitely is not inflating your ego or pitying yourself. Instead, self-compassion is about caring for yourself during hard times and ensuring you continue to get back up when life challenges you. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Anything from a gentler inner monologue to treating yourself can help.
According to Butler, the bestselling author with more than 50 million followers across her social media platforms, “we need just that little bit of pick-me-up, and over time it can make a huge difference.” Self-compassion is when you give yourself the same level of care or kindness you would give to someone else. Imagine you are advising another person whenever you find yourself being overly critical of yourself. What advice would you give a colleague or a friend in your situation? Doing this will allow you to stop beating yourself up and challenge the problem.
Watch Your Words
Start by shutting down your biggest enemy: your inner voice. A lot the time this critical voice inside your head represents the side of you that is a perfectionist. However, perfection only hinders you instead of motivating you (because perfection is not possible!). Striving for perfection gets in the way of your ability to achieve your goals.
Most self-critical individuals are compulsively pessimistic and don’t notice it until it is too late. If negativity has become a habit for you, it’s time to develop self-awareness. Self-awareness can help dilute negative self-talk. You can then fill this space with positive affirmations. This is an amazing approach to ditch negative, unhelpful thought processes. However, a positive, compassionate outlook does not need to be just rainbows and butterflies. Positivity isn’t about ignoring negativity; it’s more about how you make the most of a terrible situation.
Do You Have Extremely High Standards?
A way to embrace self-compassion is by questioning why you were unable to succeed. The cynical inner voice may make you think that you did not try enough or were not good enough. But maybe the actual reason was that you set the bar too high.
Perfectionists tend to set unrealistic goals with unreasonable deadlines for themselves. However, regardless of the amount of effort and time you invest, you must keep in mind that you’re just a human and have limits. Sometimes, it’s good enough to be just good enough. Remember that you gave it your all and did the best you could at the time, given the tools and information you had. If things didn’t go how you’d hoped, reflect on how you can do better the next time.
Shift your attention to the smaller wins instead of the big picture. Remember how far you have come when you are working towards something. It is okay to achieve your goals slowly instead of diving into them headfirst. Also, make sure you review these goals regularly. They are not set in stone. It’s okay to change them if the circumstances require it.
Are You Living in a Bubble?
Time has the ability to heal wounds. It can give you some perspective. With time, you will realize that your mistakes are an opportunity to improve instead of something that needs to be forgotten. Shortcomings and failures are temporary. You cannot achieve perfection overnight. Progress requires patience and practice. Something that is upsetting you right now will probably not bother you at all in a few months.
Self-Compassion as a Habit
Self-compassion can be a good habit you can acquire through regular attention and practice. If you have practiced having a self-critical voice all these years, it is also possible to create a habit of having one that is more compassionate instead.
For those who have spent much of their life being overly critical of themselves, striving for perfection, or consumed with negative thoughts, stepping into practicing more self-compassion can be a challenge at first. Kristen used to be the same way. Through daily practice, you can shift to a more empowered and positive mindset that will create a ripple effect in every aspect of your life. Looking for support on how to get started? The Power of Positivity provides many free resources to add more positivity to your life.