Column 14- Being kind to ourselves shouldn’t be so hard

You have just completed preparing a nice snack on a favourite plate and boom, you drop it. What do you do? Are you angry with yourself? Perhaps you call yourself an unkind name. Now turn the situation around; a good friend of yours is visiting and ends up dropping the same plate. How do you respond? Perhaps something along the line of “that’s OK, don’t beat yourself up, it is just a plate.”
Why is it we cannot be as gentle with ourselves as we are with other people?
When someone else is hurting we try to help them feel better. When others make mistakes, we are forgiving. Being warm and understanding of ourselves is also very important to our health. We talk a lot to ourselves each day and rather than the usual banter of belittling, we should be encouraging ourselves. Using equanimity, “a calm mental state”, even when things go wrong, is a healthy practice. This approach helps us get through the mistakes, failures and shortfalls we as humans experience every day, with a less stressful feeling.
Having an awareness of how we feel about things and accepting the fact that we feel that way and it is OK, helps us to move beyond the upset too. I learned of this concept of self-compassion when a very good friend of mine used it. My friend had gone through some very hard times and when I asked how she was doing she replied that she was being self-compassionate. I reflected on this and I wanted to learn more. She really was doing well even though she had just gone through a great deal of pain and was in the midst of more difficult times.
Once we can adapt well, we have fewer negative reactions and emotions; we are better able to accept things and take charge of ourselves. Our self- compassion gets deeper and we increase our happiness, our wisdom, our confidence. With this, we are more motivated to do what we truly wish to achieve.
I wrote about meditation at one time before I had a chance to practice it much. After learning more about it I have been practicing it more and more. For a while I was able to attend weekly group practice and now, I practice on my own and I miss it when I do not do it as much as I feel I should. I find that meditation supports the practice of self-compassion, it helps me to better accept my flaws and faults and this is helpful to self-sooth during stressful times.
It sounds weird, I know, but think about it. If you recognize that you are not perfect, but continue to strive to do your best, do not beat yourself up when you do not achieve the results you wanted, you feel better. Be as good a caregiver to yourself as you are to others and you will achieve more. We CAN learn to treat ourselves better – we just need to practice doing it more often. Speak to yourself like you would speak to a good friend, with kindness. There are other exercises that you can do to help get rid of the negative self-talk. Check out self-compassion at the library or on the Internet. Talk to someone about it.
Our health and ageing well are for us, so why not try something that helps us be healthier and kinder with ourselves. We are all going to live through good times and bad, difficult times. Self-compassion is yours for the taking – and it’s free. So just do it!

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