Self-compassion is an essential skill to feel cozy, whole, and full. Here are three steps to give it a try.
Mine some mindfulness – Taking the time to pause and notice thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment without judgement is a key step to coping with negative emotions. This can be developed by formal and informal practices, all with the aim of making a conscious decision to approach yourself with love and kindness.
Understand that all humans suffer – The very definition of being “human” is to be vulnerable, imperfect, and mortal. In reality, it’s easy to get frustrated when things do not bounce your way or you experience a setback. Rather than isolating, talking about challenges and seeking support can lead to healing and connection.
Choose self-kindness over self-judgement – Self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff states, “self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be, or get, exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater mental emotional equanimity [mental calmness] is experienced.”
One powerful question to ask yourself when you have feelings of loneliness and depression is, “how would I treat a friend or loved one if they were in the same situation?” Notice any discrepancies between how you would support them and the self-talk or feelings you have now. Try to catch and redirect those thoughts early next time they come around.