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What is Self-Compassion, and Why Do I Need to Practice It?

Self-compassion is not a term we hear often.  We often hear about increasing our self-esteem, building up our self-confidence, or finding time for self-care.  Where does self-compassion fit into this conversation?  Self-compassion is the practice of implementing self-kindness in our thoughts and actions; recognizing that mistakes, failures, and frustrations are part of being human; and being mindful of our feelings without judging them.  These three components allow us to give ourselves the same compassion on a daily basis that we offer our friends and family.  

Practicing self-compassion can be challenging which is exactly why we must practice it.  Here are a few steps to get you started…

  1. Check in with yourself and your feelings. Ask yourself how things are  going and how you are feeling. This emotion wheel can help you really specify what is going on for you.

  2. Be mindful of how you feel without judgement (Don’t blame yourself or feel guilty for feeling a certain way.) Think about how you would speak to a friend or your child...would you call them ‘stupid’ or ‘weak’ for feeling the same way you are currently feeling?

  3. Remind yourself that feeling the way you are feeling is part of being human, and you are not alone in feeling this way.

  4. Ask yourself - what would you tell a friend about this situation?

  5. Ask yourself what you need right now.

Step Five can be one of the most challenging components of self-compassion as it can feel “selfish” to identify and take care of our own needs.  Maybe you are feeling agitated and need to take a walk and soften the body (walking, exercising, yoga).  Maybe you are feeling lonely and need to connect with a friend or family member (Facetime, phone call, sit outside with a neighbor).  Maybe you are feeling drained and need to recharge (power nap, listen to music or podcasts, read a book). Maybe you feel frustrated and need to engage with a creative outlet (poetry, write in a journal, draw/sketch/paint).  The goal in Step Five is to show yourself kindness and compassion by responding to your needs.  Remind yourself this takes practice, but as you embrace a mindset of self-compassion, you are also modeling to those around you the importance of identifying and responding to needs in a healthy manner.  This is a skill that can have profound effects.  As Christopher Gember stated, “A moment of self-compassion can change the course of your day.  A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”  

If you’d like more information on how to implement the practice of self-compassion in your own life or need resources, do not hesitate to reach out to KS Services, LLC.

Laura Waller, MS

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