Self-compassion is about treating yourself with kindness and acceptance instead of judgement or criticism – think of how you would treat a friend. It also helps you recognise setbacks are just part of being human – they happen to everyone.
We all need it
Everyone’s path to better health and wellbeing will have highs, lows and plateaus. Practising self-compassion means being kind to yourself during challenging times, and as a result, you’ll be better able to overcome hurdles.
When you eat something you hadn’t planned to, are you judgemental? Do you respond with thoughts such as, ‘What is wrong with me?’ You might think ‘tough love’ will help you to focus, but research says self-criticism can make you anxious and actually lose focus. However, self-compassion can enable you to accept what’s taken place and get back on track.
Plus, studies show those who practise self-compassion take greater care of themselves and have healthier behaviours, such as eating well and being active, even when stressed*.
Put it into practice
What would you say or do to encourage a close friend who is struggling or feeling bad about themselves? Now think of what you usually say to yourself in a similar situation. Is there a difference between them? Try thinking of how you could respond to yourself the next time you have a setback.
*Sirois FM et al. Self-compassion, stress, & coping in the context of chronic illness. Self & Identity 2015;14(3):334-347. Terry ML et al. Self-compassionate reactions to health threats. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2013;39(7):911-926