A frequent discussion with patients is how to be kinder… To oneself.
According to clinical psychology research, self-compassion includes three major components: self-kindness, mindfulness, and connection with humanity. Scientifically, self-compassion promotes well-being, decreases depression and anxiety, and can be a buffer during difficult times.
See The Neuropsychology of Self-Compassion.
Become aware of your inner critic. The Ping.
When you notice your self critical thoughts like “I am a failure”, “I am such an idiot” or “No one likes me”. Pause and intervene with thought stopping (picture a stop sign) and replace it with another thought. Another method that my clients have found to be helpful is what I call ‘the ping￼’. Wear a stretchy style bracelet and ping it on your wrist when you find yourself being mean to you. It’s a quick reminder that this is an automatic thought. Self- denigrating thoughts can become internalized and require mindful vigilance to address them.
See Why Self-Compassion is More Important Than Self-Esteem
What would you say to a dear friend if you heard them saying these things aloud? The No-Trash-Talking.
If you heard someone you care about beating themselves up, you would likely tell them to be kinder. You would remind them that they did their best and help them remember what makes them special. Just as you wouldn’t let somebody else trash talk your bestie, being mean to yourself is not helpful.
See 13 Ways to Practice Non Compassion
Take a self-compassion break. The Timeout.
I also call this the reboot. When a laptop is glitching, you shut down everything and reboot. When people feel like they are in a downward spiral, stop everything and take a break. Use affectionate breathing, loving kindness meditation, or the self-hug as strategies to show yourself compassion.
See On the Power of the Self-Hug
Realize your suffering is a part of collective pain: Dukkha.
In Eastern thought, understanding that suffering is a part of common humanity versus your own isolated experience may help put things into perspective and to feel more connected. Pain makes people feel alone. Understand that although you may feel you are the only one suffering, you are not. Suffering is a part of the human range of experience and brings us closer to the bigger world.
See The Science of Compassion
Mindfulness. The self-scan.
Mindfulness is a receptive mind state where one observes thoughts and feelings as they are without suppressing or denying them. This state helps you become mindful of both positive and negative emotions and keep it in a balanced perspective. This can be combined with journaling, if desired. Writing how you feel in the moment from a stream of consciousness (no editing) perspective has been linked to a decrease in depressive or negative thoughts in numerous studies.
See Restorative Writing and Mental-Health
Kindness to others: Giving.
Community work and volunteering is strongly linked to an increase in positive mood. Somehow the act of helping others boosts us along with them. There are fewer things that are a bigger win-win.
Also see The Kindness of Strangers