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How to practice self-compassion: 3 key steps

Do you ever get angry at yourself after you’ve done something you wish you hadn’t? Most of us have.

If you are critical and judgmental – and we do this more than we realize – it’s time to change.

Would you talk to someone like you talk to yourself?

Imagine if your friend called you up and said, “You know how I’ve been looking for new work for three months? I just had an interview for a job I really wanted and didn’t get it. I’m so upset.”

What if you said, “Well, it’s probably for the best because it would have too hard for you. You’re too old, you’re not that smart and you’re not very organized. It’s better if you just give up because you’ll never get a job you want. I really don’t think that you deserve a job that you like.”

Would you ever talk to someone else like this? Of course not, yet, we sometimes talk to ourselves in this way!!

Be kind to yourself, just as you would to a friend

Instead of being hard on yourself, self-compassion teaches us to speak to ourselves the way we would to others. “I’m so sorry that you didn’t get that job you really wanted. No wonder you’re upset! I’m here for you and really appreciate you. Can I help in any way?”

It’s easy to be hard on yourself, and it’s much harder to be kind and have self-compassion.

What is self-compassion?

Dr Kristen Neff, the brilliant self-compassion expert, says there are three key steps to self-compassion. (Watch her wonderful and vulnerable TedTalk video here).

Mindfulness: – defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as being with what is in this moment, on purpose, without judgment.. When we accept we are suffering, then we can give compassion to ourselves
Common Humanity: because you’re human, you’re imperfect. Everyone on the planet makes mistakes and we are part of that. You are not alone.
Kindness: by being gentle and kind to ourselves and others, we can begin to build self-compassion
We don’t criticism to motivate us
We think we need self-criticism to motivate ourselves, or we’ll be lazy. But Neff says the research shows that criticism actually causes more problems. Criticism usually creates the flight, flight or freeze response.

When you’re in fear, your pupils dilate, your digestion shuts down, cortisol and adrenaline drop into your blood stream and you get ready to run, fear pumping through your body.

Choose self-compassion next time
In the moment, you can make a different choice by shifting to self-compassion. And then you can emotionally regulate your system. Stop creating the flight, flight or freeze reactions and shift to self-care. Hormones like oxytocin and endorphins are released and increases our feelings of safety and security.

Join me in this brave journey learning to live in self-compassion.


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