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Why self-compassion is so important

Most of us are probably guilty of treating others more kindly that we treat ourselves. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes seems to make it much easier to extend compassion to them that you might not give yourself. We will often tell people “don’t worry”, “it’s no big deal” “just forget it” but then spend hours beating ourselves up over a tiny mistake.

As well as having a harsh inner critic, may of us find we feed into this by constantly setting high standards for ourselves, comparing ourselves to others and striving for perfection. This can result in larger issues such as anxiety and self-doubt as well as other potential mental health issues.

Self-compassion encourages us to acknowledge that being human means imperfections and that it’s okay and completely normal. Self-compassion can be defined as the practice of being able to treat yourself with the same care, kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend. It is the foundation on which we build self-esteem, resilience and a better sense of well-being.

Practicing the ability to overcome negative self-talk can also help boost self-compassion. Negative self-talk can be debilitating led to low self-esteem. Self-compassion acts as a powerful way to battle this self-sabotaging behaviour. By being able to counter our inner critic with a kind and understanding voice we can shift our self-perception towards a more positive and healthier mindset. Even if you don’t 100% believe the positive self-talk, its important to voice this, sometimes we have to fake it till we make it!

Self-compassion can also encourage us to take part in self-care. It reminds you that taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally is not selfish, but a necessary act of wellbeing. You wouldn’t deny someone you loved the opportunity to eat a balanced meal, take part in a pleasurable activity or have some rest, so why wouldn’t you be entitled to these things?

It is important for us to understand that self-compassion is not an innate trait, but rather it being a skill that we can develop and strengthen over time. Through practicing mindfulness, self-reflection and self-kindness, our self-compassion can be nurtured into something that we do every day.

Self-compassion should not be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It encourages us to face life’s challenges with greater well-being and resilience. The first step in this is to ask yourself “am I treating myself with compassion?” and “is this how I would treat someone I loved?”. If the answer is no, its time to make some changes!

Niamh Megahy

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