Research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.
The biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be. If you would like to come out of this vicious cycle of self pity and shame, here are a few suggestions that might help :
- Understand the Nature of Shame – Shame is normal. Shame is the brain’s way of dealing with the threat of disconnection.
- Label Shame – Label shame for what it is, an emotion. Giving it a name helps you get some distance between you and the emotion.
- Replace Judgement with Curiosity – Try to hold your experience of shame with curiosity rather than judgement. Curiosity about your emotions can help you shift into a more caring and understanding perspective.
- Acknowledge Your Inner Critic – It’s helpful to be aware that your inner critic often likes to amplify your shame. Remind your inner critic that you are a work in progress, trying to navigate the best you can.
- Practice What is Helpful not Harmful – Try to speak to yourself like you would to a friend. Can you ask yourself what actions would be helpful for recovering from this experience, rather than actions that might perpetuate it? If you are working on correcting an action, can you offer yourself constructive correction rather than shaming self-attack?
Be kind to yourself because no one else will be bother if you don’t love yourself.