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Move over Mindfulness. Time for a little Self Compassion

Move over Mindfulness. Time for a little Self Compassion

We can all be too hard on ourselves sometimes, but science says giving ourselves a break and understanding self-compassion can help us feel less stressed, more relaxed and more positive.

Self compassion involves being kind to yourself, understanding that everyone makes mistakes and being aware of your lack of clarity in certain situations – mindfulness. Often people mistake self-compassion with self-pity, self-indulgence, or just think they are making excuses for their bad behaviour.

By having self-compassion you are accepting yourself as a human being, with all the failings that come with it, and you are able to progress better towards your goals, rather than being held back by negative feelings. It facilitates changes in behaviour to best help you progress in life.

Those who have self-compassion are better equipped at achieving their own goals, but are also more compassionate to others as a result, as they understand that failings are natural.

Depression and stress have found to be factors in people who are too highly self-critical and struggle to implement strategies to help them cope with problems.

Here are some tell-tale signs that you may need to work on your self-compassion:

  • You feel nothing is ever good enough
  • You believe your way is always the right way
  • You constantly mull over the mistakes you’ve made
  • You see things as either black or white, with no grey
  • You fear failure

Self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff Ph.D says we should listen to the sort of voice that’s in our heads. If it’s a critical one, say to your critical voice: “I know you are disappointed, but you are causing me pain.”

She also says that you should reframe the criticisms. For example, your critical voice may say: “You turned down that opportunity because you are afraid and you’ll never get ahead in life.” You should reframe the criticism into something like: “I know you turned that opportunity down because you were unsure and nervous, but now we can work on how best to take on the next opportunity and move forward.” Although it may sound strange, even stroking your arm can help.

Other techniques for improving self-compassion include being more flexible in the way you approach your plans, helping you to adapt better to new situations; exercises such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and stretching to create better body awareness are all positive moves towards better self-compassion.

Self-compassion can help you get through tough patches in your life, and self-compassion teaches you to accept yourself just as you are.

the author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running ultra marathons. In addition to training for her epic runs she finds time for strength training, Pilates and Yoga. .