Are you too hard on yourself?
Do you criticize yourself for your inadequacies?
Continually compare yourself to others?
Would you like to be happier?
Experience more self-acceptance?
Learn how to treat yourself with compassion and kindness!
Did you know that the way you think about yourself is more directly related to your happiness and well being than the circumstances of your life? Studies show that people who have compassion for themselves are happier, more optimistic and grateful than those who are harder on themselves.
Without even realizing it, most of us are extremely self-critical and beat ourselves up on a daily basis. We judge and critique our perceived flaws. We compare ourselves to others. We condemn ourselves when we mess up and blame ourselves when our children make mistakes.
When we lack self-compassion and kindness, it can be downright painful and lonely.
I recently led a workshop in which the effects of self-compassion and kindness proved to be extremely powerful. One by one, the women shared their struggles of how inadequate they often felt about themselves and their parenting. They expressed how they compare themselves to other moms and their children who appear to be doing “so much better” than they are. They often felt alone in their struggles.
One mom, with tears in her eyes, was brave enough to share how helpless she felt watching her high school son battle not fitting in and being bullied. Another mom, who also had a child being bullied, found comfort. This was the first time she had encountered anyone who understood how she felt. Another mom sitting next to me began to weep. Her heart was breaking over her depressed daughter. She didn’t realize that other moms in her community were facing similar struggles with their children.
As women left that evening, they shared that they felt a greater sense of compassion and kindness towards themselves.
So can you.
Here are five ways to stop beating yourself up and show yourself self-compassion and kindness.
1. Remind yourself you are human.
Make the decision to stop beating yourself up and instead treat yourself with kindness and compassion for being human. We all have times when we feel like we blew it with our child. We forget appointments and struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We are far from perfect. I have found that by asking myself what I can learn and do differently the next time helps me to fight off feelings of shame when I start beating myself up. Instead, I work on viewing my mistakes as opportunities to grow and become more of the woman I want to be.
2. When you find yourself playing the comparison game, remind yourself that we all have a battle we are fighting even though it may not seem like it.
There is no winning when we play the comparison game. Comparison is not rooted in reality. We may conclude that other women are happier and that their lives are easier. We may imagine their marriages being blissful and their money being plentiful. Listening to women talk about their children getting into good colleges can be discouraging when we are desperately praying that our child will even make it to college! The truth is, whether it looks like it or not, each one of us has a battle we are fighting somewhere. We often just don’t want people to know it.
3. Talk to yourself like you would a faithful friend who is unconditionally loving and accepting.
Next time you find you’re beating yourself up, replace that voice with a kinder and more compassionate one.
“It’s okay that you are having a hard time right now. You will get through this.”
“I understand how painful this is for you, it’s okay to cry.”
“How can you take care of yourself right now? What would feel good to you?”
Comforting and caring for yourself in the moment will get easier the more you practice it. Placing a mantra on your mirror everyday to remind you to be kinder and more compassionate towards yourself can be especially helpful until it becomes a habit.
Here is a wonderful website that provides self-compassion meditations to strengthen these inner voices – self-compassion guided meditations.
4. Extend and expand kindness to others.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation and start comparing yourself, in that moment extend kindness to yourself and the other person. See with new eyes the mother who is standing next to you as a fellow traveler in life with her own struggles. She too is human. She has her own feelings of inadequacy and needs kindness and compassion to know that she is not alone. Remind yourself of this truth.
5. Find a safe, compassionate friend to share your struggles with.
A safe and compassionate friend not only listens but is also willing to share their own struggles.
When we have a friend we can be real with, we feel freedom to openly share our feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and despair. As a result, it becomes easier to extend self-compassion and kindness to ourselves.
If you feel discouraged that you don’t have a friend you can be real with, that’s okay. You’re not the only one. I have talked to many women over the years that are looking for a real friend. Begin the process of discerning what safe friendships look like and how to find them. An excellent book is Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
If you are blessed with a friend you can share openly and honestly with, find ways to be there for each other. Some ideas might be picking up the phone if you are in a tough spot, walking once a week, meeting for coffee or agreeing to pray for each other. Finding a friend we can share our hearts with reminds us we are not alone and puts our challenges in perspective.
Learning to be more compassionate and kind to yourself is more directly related to your happiness and well being than the circumstances of your life.
In order to replace our critical self-talk, stop comparing and beating ourselves up with being more self-compassionate and kind keep the following in mind:
- You are human.
- Everyone has struggles, self-doubt and inadequacies.
- Practice positive and compassionate self-talk.
- Extend and expand kindness to others.
- Share your struggles with a safe friend.