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Mariana Plata
Mariana Plata

5 Ways to Practice Self-Compassion

It's becoming increasingly important today.

Source: Unsplash

A while ago, I came across a wonderful post by my colleague Nicole Perry on Instagram. She shared a powerful message about self-compassion–an emotional tool I've found myself recommending more and more lately.

Between societal pressures and digital overload, we need a constant reminder that we're only human—with strengths and weaknesses, with successes and failures. And we are constantly growing and evolving. 

Dr. Kristin Neff, a self-compassion specialist, has a list of several things you can do to practice this skill more each day. Here are 5 techniques—adapted from Dr. Neff's work—to foster self-compassion:

1. Practice gratitude.

Sometimes, we can forget to be thankful for the small things we experience each day. Overwhelmed by daily stress, work, responsibilities, and home life, we forget to practice gratitude with ourselves—or with our loved ones, for taking care of us and worrying about us, or our body, which is a self-haven of love and health.

I once read an amazing list that reminded us to look at those small and annoying daily tasks, like washing our clothes or dishes, as opportunities to remind ourselves for all the small blessings we have. When we pay attention to the small things, we can see the rest of the world with kinder eyes.

2. Be kind to yourself.

When a friend asks for our advice, we try to be honest and kind. Most of us strive to find the right words to do this. Are we doing the same with ourselves? Are we being kind with the way we talk to ourselves? What do we tell ourselves when we look at our reflection in the mirror? It's food for thought.

3. Forgive yourself.

This point is similar to what I said in the last paragraph: When someone makes a mistake that affects us, what is the first thing we say? "Don't worry" or "'It's no big deal." Do we show this same kindness to ourselves? Sometimes, we struggle to accept that we are only human and we can make mistakes. Let's forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes.

4. Allow yourself to "unlearn."

Have you noticed a pattern in this blog post? If we are capable of being kind to ourselves and forgiving, we can open a space to unlearn. Unlearn those mixed messages that society has sent our way, that have made us believe that our productivity is a measure of our worth. Unlearn those inner beliefs that we are not enough. Because we are—and we are worthy of love, belonging, and connection.

5. Give yourself a break.

Sometimes, all we need is a break, and permission to say "I'm doing enough," "I am enough," or "This is enough." We need space to appreciate everything we have accomplished. If you have reached this point in the post, give yourself a "break." Don't abandon your beliefs, your authenticity, or yourself. Instead, take a break. Take 5 minutes to meditate, breathe, listen to your favorite song, or simply disconnect. Just five minutes.

How do you practice self-compassion daily?

About the Author
Mariana Plata

Mariana Plata is a psychologist, educator, and mental health writer based in Panama.

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