Building Self Compassion
Written By: Amy Tai, Community and Criminal Justice (diploma), Program Assistant
How significant would your connection be if you were to embark on a multi-decade journey with someone? Wouldn’t you try to make sure you got along with each other? Wouldn’t you want to ensure that your connection with your partner was a good one? This should be no different when the person you are on a journey with is yourself. So far, research has shown that practicing self-compassion provides a lot of advantages. Strong self-compassion can pave the way for improved physical health, interpersonal connections, and overall wellbeing. People who have self-compassion are aware of their own suffering and are kind to themselves at these moments, which reduces their own feelings of anxiety and sadness (Harvard Health, 2021).
All of us can benefit from the idea of using compassion to make better life decisions. We all act and say things we regret. Therefore, in order to truly recover from our errors, we must all compassionately take care of ourselves. In his article, Dani DiPirro (2022) shares his thoughts on self-compassion: “Just because you accept something doesn’t mean that you like it. We all have attributes we don’t love, but the more you focus on accepting the things you cannot change, the more content you become with who you are… accepting my limitations and my true nature has been the greatest act of self-compassion. Doing so has allowed me to direct my energy and attention to the things I love about my life: my creativity, my writing, and the people who love me just as I am.”
Here are four simple ways to start practicing self-compassion today:
- Take care of your body. Make your favourite meal, give yourself a massage. Go on a walk. Watch your favourite movie. Anything you can do to enhance your physical well-being will help you feel more compassionate toward yourself.
- Write yourself a letter. Try to recall a circumstance that left you in pain (doesn’t necessarily have to be your CSA experience, it could be a break up or a job loss). In a letter to yourself, describe the situation without blaming anyone, especially not yourself. This activity helps to support your emotions and it can be beneficial to utilize it whenever you find yourself stuck in a pattern of self-blame.
- Encourage yourself. Consider what you would say to a trusted friend who was going through a challenging or stressful situation. Then, next time you find yourself in a similar situation, try your best to turn these compassionate reactions inward.
- Practice mindfulness. Even a brief activity, like a few minutes of meditation, can be a wonderful method to care for and accept ourselves while we’re in pain. (Harvard Health, 2021)
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” ~Kristin Neff
DiPirro, D. (2022, April 27). 10 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion and Overcome Your Shame. Tiny Buddha. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/10-ways-practice-self-compassion/
Harvard Health. (2021, February 12). 4 ways to boost your self-compassion. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/4-ways-to-boost-your-self-compassion