You have to give an important presentation at work, something you feel very stressed about. A lot of negative thoughts often arise during moments like these. In this blog, Peter already explained why that happens. As humans, we are prone to think more negative than positive thoughts, and often we do not succeed in soothing or talking kindly to ourselves when we’re having a hard time. You probably need someone else to do that for you. But what if you’re able to do that yourself? What if you can be your own friendly and soothing voice full of self-compassion? In this blog, I’ll teach you how to practice being more self-compassionate.
How would you address a friend?
“What if I don’t remember what to say? What if I can’t answer a question? What if I am not interesting enough? I should have never said yes to this, I am such an idiot.”
These are all examples of thoughts that might you might have right before such a stressful presentation. These are all negative, and unhelpful thoughts, and you’re being very strict on yourself. Would you also talk like that to a friend when he or she has to give a presentation? Probably not, right? You probably have some more compassion for a friend!
Compassion for others
Compassion is about being friendly and warm. To most of us, this comes naturally when it’s about other people. Because what would you say to that friend before they have to give a presentation? You will probably be kind, supportive, and comforting towards your friend. Meanwhile, compassion for yourself does not come naturally to you.
Self-compassion is also described as friendliness and warmth towards yourself, or as a loving, connected presence. It is the power to feel involved with your pain, and with the desire to relieve this pain. In other words, treat yourself as you would treat your friends. What definitely isn’t self-compassion, you can read here.
Self-compassion consists of three main components:
- Self-kindness: By practicing self-compassion you become your own best friend. It means that you are kind and understanding towards your own mistakes and flaws. Instead of judging and criticising yourself for your shortcomings, you can put an encouraging arm around yourself and comfort yourself.
- Common humanity: The realisation that all humans are imperfect individuals is important in self-compassion. This makes you feel connected toward others. Because everybody makes mistakes, including you. when you realise that you are not suffering alone, every moment of suffering is a moment to feel connected to others. The more you open your heart for this, instead of fighting it, the more you are capable of feeling compassion for yourself and others.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness means that you are aware of your feelings at a certain moment. All feelings are allowed, negative or positive. This is important for acknowledging your pain and it creates the possibility to react to it with care and friendliness. You can experience your feelings, instead of ignoring or avoiding them. It also prevents you from worrying too much. You don’t ignore the pain, but you tell yourself: “This is something that I am struggling with right now. How can I comfort myself and take care of myself in this painful moment?”.
Practice, practice, practice
Try practicing these three elements of self-compassion when you are feeling down or nervous. But also practice it when you are feeling ok, so you can really get the hang of it. Tell yourself things such as: “It is ok”, “Making mistakes is human”, “Everybody makes mistakes”, “You did your best”, “It doesn’t have to be perfect” or “It is ok to feel like this”. Find the words that work for you and repeat this in your head or out loud.
“If we would be as unkind to our friends as to ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends” – Kristin Neff, self compassion expert
Set reminders in NiceDay App to remind yourself of practicing compassion towards yourself.