Sometimes the hardest person to treat kindly is yourself.
It’s so easy to see your faults, mistakes and shortcomings: after all, you live with yourself 365 days a year.
But practicing self-compassion is an empowering and worthwhile way to start building more self-confidence and higher value.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to treat yourself well and begin changing your self-image.
1) Look after your body
First and foremost in terms of how to practice self-compassion is to look after yourself physically.
All too often, we end up getting lost in our thoughts or feelings and forgetting the vessel we’re in: our body itself!
This living being needed nourishment and care.
Eat some healthy and delicious food, fresh juices and savory or sweet treats.
Have a long bath, if possible, or go for a walk by the ocean and let the cool breeze wash over you.
Get a long sleep with comfortable pillows!
Look after your body, you deserve it.
2) Look after your mind
The next component of yourself to care for is your mind.
Show some love to your mind: it processes a ton of information and experiences every day, and all too often we take it for granted.
But your mind needs a rest, too, and sometimes it can really just use some hours of peace and quiet.
Practice mindfulness meditation or listen to some Jack Johnson or relaxing music for a while.
Sit looking at the sunset and let it pour over your soul.
You may find it odd at first to be letting yourself relax and switch off, but it’s very good for you and allows time for those neurons to refresh and recharge.
Your mind can take a break now and then, don’t worry about it!
3) Look after your emotions
In terms of looking after your emotions, there’s a lot you can do in that way as well.
The best way to care for your emotions is to let them have a rest, too.
Sometimes that can be as simple as relaxing and enjoying a funny film, or just stretching out and going for a jog and feeling whatever you do as you run.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, instead of thinking it’s “good” or “bad.”
Allow the value judgments to come and go.
You feel what you feel. That’s valid. That’s your life right now.
4) Set realistic goals
Another important thing is to set realistic goals so that you don’t end up sabotaging yourself.
If you have one larger goal, break it up into manageable steps.
For example, say you have a goal of becoming a lawyer and are in the first year of law school.
Speaking to friends who have been through law school, it’s intensely competitive and can often leave you feeling that you’re unwelcome or not good enough.
If you only picture the long road ahead or how you find patent law hard to grasp, you’re going to be down on yourself and much more likely to give up.
Instead, break it up into smaller steps:
Step one, pass the test next week. Then study for contract law next month. Go home to visit your family at Christmas.
And so on…
5) Focus on your strengths
We all have weak points and faults. I’m not saying to ignore them, but sometimes we are far too hard on ourselves.
The best antidote to being too hard on yourself is to turn the spotlight on what you are good at.
For example, maybe you are forgetful and often lose things, leading to tension in your relationship.
But don’t forget that you are hard-working and caring of others!
Maybe you’re a workaholic and can be emotionally distant, but you’re very conscientious about looking after your kids and providing for their well-being.
6) Write a letter to yourself
Write a letter to yourself in which you take your own side and sympathize with your life and its difficult and confusing experiences.
Be fair, but be kind.
Start with your upbringing and what you went through as a youngster, and imagine you’re a sympathetic author or journalist trying to paint you in as good a light as possible.
It’s not that you ignore the mistakes you made or the faults you have displayed in your life, it’s just that you see them in the context in which they occurred.
Avoid playing the victim. This isn’t about you having been a victim of everything bad that happened to you.
It’s more about emphasizing your champion’s side and your proactive, can-do spirit.
You did your best, and kept trying. You survived up until today. You’re a survivor. You learn from your mistakes.
And you’re going to keep on doing your best and improving every day.
7) Be your biggest cheerleader
Be your own biggest cheerleader.
Practice positive self-talk and look after yourself. Groom your hair just the way you like it, work out and eat right.
Double down on everything you’re doing right in life and stop paying as much attention to self-criticism.
The things which you are falling short on or not doing well you can deal with as they come, but consider these as items to be improved rather than areas you are “failing” or doing poorly.
You deserve to be cheered on.
You deserve to be supported.
Start becoming your biggest fan instead of a person yelling insults from the stands.
If you’re not on your side, how can you expect anyone else to be?
8) Compare yourself to this person
You’ll often hear that there’s no sense in comparing your life to anyone else’s or that jealousy and envy have no useful purpose.
Jealousy and envy can help you achieve the things you want to in life, but only if you realize that everyone’s life is different.
Your normal, and your dream maybe someone else’s abnormal and someone else’s nightmare – and vice versa.
That’s why the only person you can and should effectively be comparing yourself with is you.
Remember to compare yourself to how you were previously. Look at your progress arc and give yourself a hand.
You’re making progress, you’re going places and best of all, you’re aware of your own growth cycle and move forward.
This is something that many people don’t gain enough self-awareness to start paying attention to, so you can be proud of it for sure.
9) Practice radical acceptance
Another great way to practice self-compassion is to engage in radical acceptance.
This is where you accept everything that’s out of your control.
You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept your limits of control.
The benefits of radical acceptance are enormous and include increased energy, well-being and overall mental clarity.
When you mark what’s in your control and separate it from those things you can’t change, you stop wasting your time and energy.
Instead of hitting your head against the wall and suffering over what you can’t change, you become more effective and engaged with what you’re doing.
10) Look at the big picture
Sometimes we get very down on ourselves because we are hyper-focusing on our faults and on what’s not going right.
The cure to this is often to zoom out and look at the bigger picture.
For example: maybe you’re struggling quite a lot in your job right now, but overall you’re a successful architect.
For example: maybe you’re having a big dispute with your boyfriend and thinking of splitting up, but you’ve managed to build a great life together, and even if it doesn’t last, you deserve a lot of love for yourself for dedicating yourself that much to one person.
“Whatever your struggle, try to put it in perspective.
Know that it’s normal to have flaws and make mistakes, even if you don’t always see them in others.”
11) Get in touch with your core values
Another of the best ways to practice self-compassion is to get in touch with your core values.
Your core values are what drive you in life and can lead you to discover your career and your biggest strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve found the values exercise from Life Journal especially helpful.
This free exercise helps you discover more about what motivates you in life and what you care about most. This isn’t always clear to us and sometimes it takes a bit of reflection and the right questions to find out which way we want to head.
This is definitely a great place to start by figuring out what makes you tick and how to double down on your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
Check the values exercise from Life Journal here.
12) Consume content that lifts you up
Another of the best ways to practice self-compassion is to consume content that lifts you up.
I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of Never Finished by ultra-marathon runner and Navy SEAL veteran David Goggins.
It’s all about empowering yourself and never giving up or settling, even when you already feel you’ve “made it.”
Some may find Goggins a bit hard on himself, but if you listen to his message deeply, he’s actually talking about being kind to yourself by not allowing yourself to be a victim or make excuses.
By not believing your own excuses and asking more of yourself, you empower yourself to do more in life and come closer to making various dreams a reality.
As Goggins says in Never Finished:
“We have to learn to stop looking for a sign that the hard time will end.
When the distance is unknown, it is even more critical that you stay locked in, so the unknown factor doesn’t steal your focus.”
Translation: believe in yourself! Then when you feel that belief slipping, believe in yourself even more!
More examples of uplifting content:
- Fascinating and relevant documentaries
- Going to art galleries with art and projects you admire and engage with
- Watching films and programs that speak to you and challenge, inspire and amuse you
- Reading books that are interesting and important about subjects that touch on what you care about and what motivates you.
13) Engage in activities you love doing
Next up in how to practice self-compassion is to do things you love doing.
Trying new activities is a great idea as well.
Want some ideas?
Here are 125 skills you can learn that will make your life more interesting and engaging.
If you want to stick with one or two tried and true activities you love, that can also be a great way to go.
Some other ideas:
- Kite surfing
- Playing music
- Sewing and alterations
- Carpentry projects
- Learning to make cocktails
14) Spend time around those you love
Another great way to look after yourself is to spend time around those you love most.
This could be your family, friends, or the crowd on a Friday night at your favorite bar.
Do yourself a favor and spend time around people who make you feel good.
There’s plenty of time to be stuck around people who don’t really float your boat.
Spend some time around those who do!
15) Go to places that refresh and revitalize you
Last and far from least, show compassion to yourself by going to places that revitalize and refresh you.
If you’re lucky this might be going on vacation to Costa Rica or Croatia.
If you don’t have the time or money for that, it might just be taking a walk on Sunday on a small forest path that always leaves you feeling reawakened.
Even just once or twice a week can make a big difference in terms of your overall well-being.
Taking care of yourself
It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself or even take your own body and mind for granted.
In this article I’ve emphasized some ways you can slow down and show yourself some love.
Try it out and remember that life’s too short not to like the one you’re with, and you won’t spend any more time with anyone in life than you will with yourself!