Updated: Feb 7
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would a loved one during difficult times, mistakes, or when something is wrong. Self Compassion means being kind instead of critical, connecting instead of isolating, and mindful instead hooked by critical thinking patterns.
The effects of self-criticism activate the sympathetic nervous system which triggers fight-flight freeze (FFF) responses like rapid heart rate, the release of cortisol (stress hormones ), intensified or shutting down sight smell, hearing, or touch, etc. The FFF system protects us from danger but when the danger is an inner sense of shame, fear of failure, or being motivated by perfectionism then this drive becomes toxic.
Individuals with lower self-compassion have higher rates of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, overcompensating, conflicting relationships, or feelings of loneliness.
Self-compassion is not about self-esteem, being selfish, or egocentric but a social act often internalized from previous experiences and externalized to others. It’s an act of courage in many ways because self-compassion means to truly be present to discomfort without judging it, avoiding it, or, being paralyzed by it.
Tips to develop self-compassion:
Self-compassion breaks: Take 5+ minutes alone and say an affirmation for example “right now I am vulnerable“ “I feel X and can embrace this discomfort“, it’s normal for everyone to feel overwhelmed sometimes” while having your hands on your chest and embracing someone you truly love.
Naming the inner critic: label, draw, or play out the characteristics of the inner critic. Give it a name like “the judge” or what it tries to make you believe “your not good enough“, or draw a symbol of the image representing the critic “a faceless person like someone in A large crowd spewing judgments”.
Meditation: sit or lay down for 5+ minutes and notice the thoughts wander and return to the body's sensations with curiosity and no goal in mind.