Self- compassion is a crucial yet overlooked part of the healthy human experience. We are often guided on how to strive for self-improvement, but not how to be kind to ourselves during the ups and downs of character development.
What self-compassion is not
Some of us have a hard time with self-compassion because we confuse it with other things. Self-compassion is not:
- overlooking opportunities for character development
- avoiding accountability
- feigning joy, happiness or perfection
- self-pity or seeking pity and sympathy from others
Self-compassion is the opposite of all of those things!
Okay, so what is self-compassion and how does it work?
Self-compassion is extending empathy to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. It’s understanding that you aren’t required to have flawless thoughts, emotions, or actions in order to be lovable. Self-compassion is:
- pursuing character development without expecting yourself to be perfect
- taking accountability for your actions and creating a practical plan to do better next time, without guilt and shame
- allowing yourself to experience the full gamut of emotions without identifying with them
- welcoming support from others without guilt or shame
Self-compassion is challenging. It requires the yogic principles of ahimsa (nonviolence), satay (truthfulness), aparigraha (non-attachment to outcomes), tapas (self-discipline) as well as svadhyaya (self-study). These traits are directing towards yourself with the utmost patience and empathy. Feeling comfortable with self-compassion takes time.
Self-compassion takes practice!
We live in a world that makes the extremes easy, right? It’s easy to find social media accounts of delusional people who feel that they’re beyond reproach. And it’s equally easy to find comments from people who want to drag everyone through the mud. It can be hard to find that balance between firm accountability and compassion within ourselves, much less in the world around us.
Self-compassion takes practice. Next time that you’re being hard on yourself, try the following self-care routine.
A self-care practice for self-compassion
Create a space for reflection. If you are able, set aside time and space to care for yourself. Imagine, perhaps, that you will be visited by a friend who is having a rough day. How would you set the tone? Prepare the space? Do those things for yourself.
Promote introspection. Consider journaling or speaking into a recorder. Give yourself an opportunity to explore the situation that has caused you to question your character or self-worth. What have you learned from this situation? How can you improve next time? And most importantly, show yourself kindness. Your perceived errors and shortcomings are likely common to all of humanity. And you can move beyond them!
This can be a challenging activity, so I recommend aromatherapy during the process. Sandalwood, rose, and bergamot essential oils can be very supportive when we undertake work towards self-compassion. Diffuse one of the following essential oils, or dilute it with a carrier oil and apply it to pulse points on the neck, chest, inner elbow, wrists, temples and behind the ears.
Bergamot vibrant, citrus aroma respected for promoting a sense of healthy self-worth. It reassures the nervous system and elevates the mood.
Rose floral aroma often used to express love. It appeals to both the soft, yielding feminine as well as the necessity for healthy boundaries. (Hello, thorns!)
Sandalwood earthy aroma that facilitates healing on a cellular level. A calming, timeless oil to remind you that you are a constantly evolving work of art in progress—revere every phase and remain devoted to your growth.
Pick up any of these essential oils or create your custom blend in our Etsy shop.
Consider the following affirmations. It can be so, so hard to be kind to ourselves when we feel like we could’ve made better choices. Consider saying these affirmations out loud.
I am human and I am allowed to make mistakes.
I do not need to be perfect to love myself.
I do not need to be perfect to be worthy of love.
I learn from my mistakes and commit to doing better next time.
I move forward with self compassion, forgiveness and the power to make positive changes.
Take care of yourself!