When I was younger, I struggled with my mental health. The very idea of self-compassion felt like a truly alien concept to me, all I knew then was self-hatred. I couldn’t fathom liking myself or treating myself with kindness, let alone loving myself.
As I worked through those issues, I recognised the importance of self-worth and the role self-compassion has in building it. The more I explored this area, the more I realised the power self-compassion has. Slowly, I started to like myself, treating myself with kindness and, yes, even loving myself.
Since my recovery journey I’ve had moments, just like anyone, of falling back into old thinking habits. On the whole though, I’m pleased to say my mind is quite a nice place to be as I continue to meet my needs, offer myself compassion and keep going in this roller coaster called life. When I do have those moments of treating myself harshly and thinking negatively towards myself, I like to remind myself just why self-compassion is so important. There are many thoughts and ideas I could dive into here, but I’ll limit myself to the three that stand out to me.
It eases the friction of life
When I was in the depths of my mental health struggles, I vividly remember waking up one day, the usual torrent of abuse from my inner dialogue starting up and saying to myself “I’m tired of hating myself.”
Because here’s the thing, hating yourself takes energy. It makes so many things difficult, causing you to question yourself and doubt every decision. It causes friction, like a rusted up cog, and every move or thought feels like torture.
When you’re able to treat yourself with self-compassion, that friction eases. You’re not spending time or energy arguing with yourself, demeaning yourself or beating yourself up. You can move through life more freely as you trust in your decisions and know that whatever happens… you have your own back.
It creates a safe space to grow
This knowing, this awareness that you have your own back makes it easier to try new things. You can start to harness your inner bravery and confidence to do all the things you were once afraid to do. Self-compassion acts like a cushion here, allowing you to experiment in new ways, while having a safe place to fall if it doesn’t go to plan.
This cushioning is essential if you want to grow in life. If you want to develop yourself, reach for your goals and make moves in your life – self-compassion can help you get there.
It helps you be more open minded
This is a relatively new discovery for me. I interviewed a counsellor recently about how to become more open minded and understanding of others, and they explained that we have to start with ourselves. If we can understand ourselves better, be more open minded and kind towards ourselves, then we can start to apply this thinking to those around us.
So there we have it, if you’ve ever needed a gentle nudge to start pursuing self-compassion, I hope this can help. What I would encourage you to do is consider your personal reasons around improving your relationship with yourself – what will it offer you and those around you? Note your reasons down and keep them somewhere you’ll see them every day as reminders to keep going. Battling your inner critic may seem like a lot of work to start with, but I promise it’s worth it.