Self-compassion or self-love may seem like a foreign concept, especially if you suffer from low self-esteem. But, self-compassion can simply be seen as kindness toward the self, like being gentle, supportive, and understanding with yourself instead of critical and judgmental. If you're struggling with lack of self-compassion, here are four ways to cultivate it:
1. Practice mindfulness
When you find yourself getting caught in endless self-criticism, it's most likely because you've become too preoccupied with your negative storyline. This process of giving into your internal critic is often accompanied by negative rumination. Mindfulness can help quiet these negative thoughts by teaching you how to enter a state of non-judgmental awareness.
2. Allow yourself to be imperfect
Self-compassion is all about giving yourself room to be human, which means being flawed and, at times, unproductive. It's also about cultivating a well-balanced perspective on yourself, so you never shut yourself down or lose faith in your potential. Permit yourself to make mistakes without beating yourself up.
3. Work with a therapist
Cultivating new patterns of thought or behavior takes time and effort. It's challenging learning self-compassion on your own. That's where a therapist can help. Therapy provides a safe environment in which a therapist can help you notice your thoughts and feelings, help you develop a realistic perspective of yourself, and demonstrate empathy for you. Over time, you'll learn and internalize these skills.
4. Express gratitude
Gratitude opens the door to self-compassion. It's a channel through which you can experience compassion for yourself and others. Practice gratitude regularly by writing down three things you're grateful for about yourself and your life. Try to do this every time you notice negative self-defeating thoughts popping up in your head. It will shift your focus from negative to positive thoughts, helping you develop more self-compassion.
Remember that you're not alone
Whatever you're going through, so are millions of others. No one is perfect. By recognizing that you're not the only one who has self-doubts, you can begin to feel more connected to others. Self-compassion is about being kind to yourself and realizing that the human condition is imperfect.