Developing Self-Compassion & Learning to Be Nicer to Ourselves
I don’t like myself. What can I do?
How can I improve my self-esteem?
Many of the problems that make us anxious have a common origin: lack of self-esteem. Because of all the external pressures (to which we are subjected), our self-demand and the feeling of being lost and not knowing what to do, we can end up treating ourselves very harshly. Therefore, if you want to improve your state of mind, you have to learn to be kind to yourself.
Self-compassion is a concept that first appeared in the Buddhist religion. Being kind to yourself means copying the tone and generosity with which you would treat a close friend, instead of falling into self-criticism that leads nowhere. We sometimes talk to each other, without realizing it, as if we were our own worst enemy.
Research shows that to be kind to yourself, you need to develop three skills:
Kindness to yourself. This involves acting understandingly and kindly to yourself. For example, we can forgive ourselves instead of feeling guilty when we make a mistake.
A sense of shared humanity. This element with such a peculiar name hides, in reality, a very basic attitude. It consists of believing that no one is perfect and that we all have the right to make mistakes. It helps us to understand that we are neither better nor worse than others.
Mindfulness. The ability to live at the moment helps us to put our problems into perspective when they arise. Mindfulness also helps us to be more calm, increasing our patience with ourselves.
How do you develop the ability to be kind to yourself?
Now that you know the skills involved in self-compassion, you’re probably wondering how to develop them. These are not characteristics that settle in us the moment we are born (there may be a pre-born characteristics, a potentiality favored by genetics, but nothing more). So being kind to yourself is going to require a conscious effort and a lot of work.
Researchers have found that one of the best strategies for developing self-passion is to pay attention to the quality of responses. Asking ourselves certain questions can change our point of view and the way we act. Things that are important when interacting with others become fundamental when it comes to interacting with ourselves. So we’re going to reveal two of the most powerful questions for learning to be kind to yourself.
“The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself”Tony Robbins
What do I need to feel good?
This question may seem extremely simple, but we are not used to asking it. In general, we are so preoccupied with what we “need to do” that we forget our own needs.
One of the biased ideas that pushes us to reason this way is that we associate selfishness with something negative. If a person states that he or she wants to concentrate on his or her own happiness, suspicious looks will soon appear. Shouldn’t they sacrifice themselves for others instead? As Aristotle said, caring for oneself is not an evil. On the contrary, it is necessary.
How would I treat a loved one in this situation?
We can often turn into our worst enemies. No one judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. No one is as demanding as our “self”. This can lead to serious problems of self-esteem as we seek perfection that is impossible to attain. Imagine that you have had a fight with your spouse and start blaming yourself for everything. In this situation, it is common to think things like :
“I never do the right thing.”
“How can I be so insensitive?
“In the end, I’ll end up alone, as usual.”
The next time you find yourself thinking these irrational things, imagine telling someone close to you. How would he take it? Do you think it would really help him?
If the answer is no, why do you treat yourself this way?
Treating yourself with self-compassion is a very complicated skill to acquire. Even though being critical with ourselves can help us change, pushing this attitude to the extreme ends up leading to great suffering. It is therefore important to learn to be kind to yourself.
What is the next step? Now that you know these two questions, choose to ask yourself then the next time you feel you are being too harsh. Even if you find it difficult at first, you will gradually see that treating yourself kindly will become more and more natural.