In this series of mental health awareness blogs, I wanted to talk about being nicer to ourselves. I know too many people who tear themselves down every day…whether it’s about their hair, their body, feeling like they’re not funny, interesting, smart…people will pick apart every small thing and find ways to be unhappy with themselves. And that is the last thing that we need right now.
Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between self-compassion and mental well-being. And if you’ve been reading the blogs, you’ll already be familiar with the term. There’s a lot to be said about having self-compassion. You’d be surprised how many people waste time beating themselves up. Stating the obvious here, but we all deserve to be happy.
This is why self-compassion is so important. We all have to learn to be kinder to ourselves. It sounds like common sense and it kind of is, but a lot of us are not as nice to ourselves as we should be. Maybe it’s rooted in our fears, maybe it’s unavoidable to compare ourselves to others, maybe we were brought up in uncaring environments. I think a lot of people are tough on themselves because they think it’ll make them better—I feel that way a lot. But a lot of times it does the opposite and we end up self-destructing and feeling even more insecure, etc.
Instead, learn to have some self-compassion and start doing it now. Because it’s not going to happen to you magically. There are small and actionable ways for you to start practicing self-compassion. Let’s start with some self-care. This could be anything from taking a relaxing bath to going for a long walk to clear your mind. Just spend some time and do something to help make yourself feel better. Easy.
Another thing that you can do that a lot of people suggest is to write yourself a letter as an exercise. Pretend you’re writing to a friend or someone you care about who’s having the same negative thoughts as you are. How would you talk to them about their problems? What empathetic and compassionate things would you say to them? And then read the letter again, addressed to you. Doing this exercise can help you change your perspective.
Do some mindfulness practices. I know I say this A LOT but mindfulness practices seem to be beneficial for everything that has to do with mental health at this point. Meditation/mindfulness practices allow you to observe your emotions and feelings without judgment.
Lastly, give yourself permission to be flawed. Understand that no one is perfect and embrace your imperfections. If it makes things easier, try to treat yourself like you would a friend. We’re generally much nicer and more forgiving to our friends. You’re always going to make mistakes and you’re going to learn from them. Maybe you’ll make the same mistake again, and that’s fine too. Roll with it. Learn to accept that as a natural part of life.
Hopefully learning about self-compassion will help you understand why being kind to yourself is important. there are a lot of other things that you can do to actively work on it. Taking steps to try and improve your mental health/happiness (like reading a blog about self-compassion if you’re feeling down), is already a practice in self-compassion.