What is self-compassion?

Day 214 of #LiveWell2017

Day 214 self-compassion

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about self-compassion, and then I came across this article on the Stanford Medical blog that discusses self-compassion as strategy to reduce burnout when being a caregiver for others.

A very good friend of mine is a champion for self-care. She taught me not only to take care of my physical health, but to take care of my mental health, too. She taught me about self-compassion, which means being kind to yourself, not judging yourself, and being mindful of your own thoughts and feelings without letting them get the better of you. As the Stanford article says, it “doesn’t mean being indulgent or letting yourself off the hook, but it also doesn’t mean being overly self-critical and harsh.”

When I suggested to someone recently that she might benefit from practicing some self-compassion and self-care, she said, “I don’t know what that means.” In our society we are conditioned to care for others first, often at the expense of our own health and well-being. We also tend to beat ourselves up pretty well for mistakes we make or for not being as good at something as we think we should be. None of those are particularly useful attitudes for us. We’re not so good at self-care. But, accepting that we are not perfect, that we make mistakes, that we all suffer at times, and then treating ourselves with kindness can get us through times of stress and difficulty.

Self-compassion means being kind to ourselves just as we would be to a friend, understanding that we are not alone in our suffering, that all of humanity suffers at times, and observing our thoughts and feelings without letting them control us.

I hope that you are practicing self-compassion, taking care of yourself so that you can care for others with genuine love and understanding. It starts in your own heart. Be nice to you. If you need help, try some of these exercises.


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