Three Steps to a Better Relationship With Yourself
“If you want others to
be happy, practice compassion. If you
want to be happy,
Many of us are our own worst critics. When we make a mistake, we often say harsh things to ourselves. If we feel we like we’ve blown it or stepped out of line, we can fire off bitter comments aimed at our self. “You jerk!” “You’re a loser!” “What’s wrong with you?” These verbal assaults can wear us down and make it difficult for us to enjoy our personal and professional lives. We can end up feeling depressed, anxious, or stressed out. Not a fun way to go through life.
Have you ever noticed that you would never say these severe comments to a dear friend who came to you having just made a similar mistake or found herself in a troubling situation? Instead, you would be supportive and understanding and try to help your friend feel better. You might reassure her that you’ve felt similarly, you still respect her and you don’t think she’s a bad person. Why deal with your friend with this kindness, but not yourself? You deserve to treat yourself with the same compassion.
The good news is that self-compassion can be learned. What’s self-compassion? Kristin Neff has been studying and teaching self-compassion for about 10 years. She breaks it down in to three components:
- Kindness. Being soothing and comforting with yourself as you imagine a nurturing mom would care for her child. Or being as understanding and supportive with yourself as you would be with a good friend.
- Common humanity. Recognizing that you, along with everyone else, are a flawed human being. Holding in mind this connection provides you with more balanced perspective on your shortcomings and difficulties.
- Mindfulness. Accepting what is happening in the present moment. Being aware of your feelings in a way that neither dismisses nor exaggerates your suffering.
Treating ourselves kindly when looking at past mistakes, failures or humiliations, makes it easier for us to own up to what we’ve done and make things better. Self-compassion helps us interact with ourselves and others in a way that promotes not only our own well-being, but the well-being of others we interact with, as well. It also helps us live up to our fullest potential since people who practice self-compassion know how to pick themselves up, brush themselves off and start all over again. They are not caught in anxiety and stress.
I bring the practice of self-compassion in to my work with my clients. If you’re interested to find out how self-compassionate you are, you can take this test by Kristen Neff of Self-Compassion.org here: http://www.self-compassion.org/test-your-self-compassion-level.html (Test copyrighted by Kristin Neff Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin.)
I have years of experience helping people to become more self-compassionate. Contact me for more information.
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If you have any questions, need more information, or would like to make an appointment, you can call me at 301-279-7779, email me at BethLCounseling@aol.com, or use the form below.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker • Over 15 years of experience • Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist and Supervisor • Member of The Greater Washington Society of Clinical Social Work • Member of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy • Member of Clinical Social Work Association • Member of National Association of Social Workers
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