The greatest love of all - Self-compassion
As the month of February rolls in, I start to notice all the signs of the approaching Day of Love. Even though I'm not keen on the commercial hype I do still get drawn in to buying one of those tacky cards with romantic verses that I would never naturally use.
What I do love though is the idea of taking a day to really celebrate and be grateful for having love in my life. It's just a shame that this focus is never applied to the greatest love of all - self-compassion.
Imagine taking a day to celebrate all the things you love about yourself and to be grateful for all the positive strengths and skills you have. You could give yourself a day off from the constant judging and evaluating that we habitually do and instead practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion, according to Dr Kirsten Neff, is made up of three components:
- Self-kindness - Being kind,gentle and understanding to ourselves, especially when we're suffering.
- Common humanity - Being aware that we're not alone in struggling and suffering grief, rejection and failure, rather that it is part of our experience as humans.
- Mindfulness - Observing life as it is at this moment without judgement and whilst accepting our thoughts and feelings.
Self-compassion is therefore clearly different from self-pity, which means you are so overwhelmed by your problems that you forget others struggle too. It's also not being self-indulgent as it doesn't mean ignoring problems or responsibilities, but being kind to yourself whilst struggling with them.
If there was such a self-compassion day, what could you do to make the day special? Well first I would recommend you imagine what you might do for a close friend who was in need of compassion and try it on yourself. You might want to;
- Put time aside for focusing on yourself and think of all the good things about you.
- Stop being self-critical and using negative self-talk.
- Do something that you really like, such as a long bath, reading, listening to music.
- Remind yourself of the mistakes and tough times that other people have been through, it's not just you who gets it wrong.
- Try practicing a mindfulness exercise, to keep focused on the present and give your mind a break.
If you are on your own this February 14th why not change the day into a celebration of you and treat yourself to some self-compassion. Or if you have a romantic day planned with your partner you could nominate a different date for just you.
Enjoy your day and I'd love to know how you get on.