Why is it hard to love me? A lesson in self compassion
Updated: Jun 18
Mindfulness is a big buzz word these days. And rightfully so, it's useful and there is a lot of science backing it up. So what does it mean? Basically, if we are being mindful it means we are being present and aware of our body's reactions physically and emotionally to the world around us and noticing these reactions without judgement. When we do this we are actually training our brains to rewire and become more positive in our outlook. Here's some science if you're interested.
Being aware of our reactions without judgement can be hard. Like, how many times have you (and I for that matter) made a mistake or fumbled and called ourselves a name like "dumb" or "clumsy"? We tend to be hardest on ourselves. Stuff we say about ourselves we never in a hundred years would say to a friend or a loved one. How do we change this? Well, we need to be more compassionate to OURSELVES. We need to love ourselves more and judge ourselves less. And it takes some tools and some practice.
Self compassion is different from self esteem, too. Self esteem is great and easier when things are going well, but much harder when things aren't all rainbows and sunshine. Our brains are wired to remember the bad stuff... it kept us alive when we were cavemen and had to remember which berries were making us sick. It can help remind us that fire is hot and the warning signs of predators in society. So, when things are bad or when bad things happen, it's a little harder to muster up big self esteem. Self compassion though, that is something we can work with always. Like loving yourself through the good times and the bad.
Self compassion can be in our awareness (by being mindful) and is important at all times. But, being kind to ourselves requires work. This is something we haven't been taught well and friends, we need these tools. We need to practice. So, how do we do this? Glad you asked. Here are some of my favs.
1. You catch yourself beating yourself up about something. What would you tell your best friend in this situation? Think about the actual script you would tell her/him. Now, say it to yourself. Use your name and everything. It might feel hokey, but it will work and will get easier with practice.
2. Give yourself permission to be human. That's right. You do not need to do it all. And what you choose to do does not need to be perfect. Progress over perfection. Remind yourself every time you start beating yourself up for not being enough. You're totally enough. If you want some ideas specific to loving your body more, click HERE.
3. Practice some guided mindfulness. There are great apps out there to help you with this. I like Headspace, Breathe and Calm. Also, breathing deeply with our hands on our heart and repeating a positive affirmation can stimulate the good oxytocin in our brains. Some of my favorite affirmations are here in my Personal Organizer Project Planner, too.
4. Finding time to practice gratitude for who we are and what we have to be thankful for. I find that when I'm super stressed and can't shut my mind off, doing this simple thing helps me to start shifting my mindset. You need to write it on paper. There is something that happens when you physically take pen to paper that helps your brain rewire in a positive, stress reducing way.
5. Seek professional help. If you are feeling like you have been in a dark funk for more than a couple of weeks and you can't get out of it, seek processionals. We go to the doctor for sprained ankles and strep throat, sometimes we need to seek tools from professionals to help our brains, too. Here's a place to start researching if you are in the US. And a simple search on the internet for your area will pull up a lot of resources, too.
Practicing self compassion takes PRACTICE. You have to keep coming back to it. Working on it. It's easier to fall into the negativity trap, but once you start you won't want to go back to anything else. You'll feel better about yourself and this is the best gift you could give yourself.
If you'd like to download the FREE Guided Journal to Loving Yourself More, click HERE.
And if you'd like to connect with girls through your own Lotus Project, please visit HERE.