The end-of-year holidays are gone. What comes next in the world of advertising, social media and greeting card hype? Valentine’s Day!!! No matter what your age, depending on the year, you might have a moment when you feel on top of the world because you have ‘someone special in your life,’ or down in the dumps because you don’t. When alone on Valentine’s Day people of all ages might feel sensations of dread, depression, sadness, ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m not worthy of love,’ poor me, jealous of friends in a relationship, etc. These thoughts aren’t healthy and truly don’t serve a good purpose in the long run.
This timely example provides an opportunity to explore steps to reframe our thoughts for every future incident where negative is trying to move in and take away our positivity and joy. The desired outcome is to always remember that ‘I am Enough.’
Consider implementing a ‘Self-Love’ or ‘Self-Compassion’ mindset.
Self-compassion might be a more comfortable way to explain self-love. It’s a way of relating to yourself that doesn’t involve harsh judging or punishing yourself for every mistake you make or every time someone does better than you. Treating yourself with the same kindness, concern and support you’d show a good friend. Additionally, when faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-compassion responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, recognizing that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.** Ummmm, that’s interesting!! Note to self: Next time I make a mistake, I need not beat myself up with thoughts, words or actions.
7 STEPS TO BECOME MORE SELF-COMPASSIONATE
- Recognize that you are experiencing emotional distress or upset.
The minute you realize you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself or feeling anxiety in your body, STOP and acknowledge it. ‘This is a difficult moment.’
- Accept that the feeling is there.
Make a conscious decision to sit with the negative feeling and try to accept it rather than pushing it away. What emotion is being triggered: anxiety, sadness, anger? Where are you feeling it: in your chest, belly, shoulders, face?
- Imagine what you might feel if you saw a good friend or family member experiencing this feeling.
Imagine your friend being scare or sad or feeling badly about themselves. What might you feel? Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Take this ‘compassionate’ thought and direct it to yourself. You may want to ask yourself why you think others deserve compassion but not you.
- Challenge your negative story about yourself.
If you can’t feel compassion for yourself because you feel ‘undeserving’ or ‘bad,’ try to think about this as an old story. Think about why you were ‘bad.’ Challenge this interpretation. Were there circumstances that influenced your behavior and caused you to act in an unhealthy or irresponsible way? Now make a commitment to try to learn from the experience, rather than beat yourself up over it. Are there other, kinder ways to view the situation? Are you expecting yourself to be perfect, rather than allowing yourself to be human?
- Think about how everybody messes up sometimes.
It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up while everyone else is ‘perfect.’ Even the most successful people make serious mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t undo all of your accomplishments and successes. Humans are learning, developing beings rather than finished products. We’re all works in progress.
- Decide what it would take to forgive yourself.
If your behavior hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through poor behavior, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely or simply being ‘mean,’ make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin acting differently.
- Use self-talk to encourage yourself.
You may say something like, ‘It doesn’t help to beat myself up,’ or, ‘Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.’ You may want to acknowledge yourself for trying, even if you weren’t successful. You may tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did as well as the negative ones, or that behavior is a process, and you need to keep trying.
Consider making today the day you say, ‘no’ to being overly tough on yourself, or thinking you’re the only one who has ever been down this road or had these thoughts. Say ‘yes’ to reframing your ‘negative thoughts, self-talk and possibly self-abusing actions’ into positive self-talk and thoughts that set the stage for having a positive, life where you love yourself and demonstrate self-compassion.
**quote from Kristen Neff, the pioneer of self-compassion research, Nefff & Dahm, 2015.
Adapted from www.psychologytoday.com blog related to Mindful Self-Esteem.