What are the amazing benefits of being kind to yourself? When you face a challenge or when you make a mistake, what do you do? It’s really easy to be self-critical in these situations. We all heard that little voice in our head telling us that we are worthless, stupid or incompetent. When times are tough, we don’t need to hear this. We need the same support that we would give to a friend.
It’s not only that these self-critical thoughts make us feel bad, but they also have an impact on our health, especially our immune system. Researchers believe that being kind to yourself will switch this response and we will receive great health benefits from just being kind to ourselves.
Instead of self-criticism, be mindful and choose self-compassion. Understanding that tough experiences are a part of being human can help you build soothing strategies that will make you feel better. Self-compassion will make you feel better emotionally and physically as well.
Be kind to your soul and your body, and your body will be kind to you. We should be “on our own team,” encouraging and supporting ourselves. It’s what helps us fight for those things that we want in life and believe that we can achieve them. We can be our own worst enemy when we choose to critique, insult or question ourselves and our decisions. We all make mistakes but it’s important that we don’t become our worst enemy in times when we need to encourage ourselves.
How to be more supportive of yourself?
If you have low self-esteem, you must recognize it and acknowledge that. People who have low self-esteem are more likely to be affected by the criticism of others. The input of others is perceived as additional criticism and it can lead to even more self-criticism.
Kirstin Neff is a leading researcher on the subject of self-compassion. She suggests that self-compassion is more beneficial to our overall well-being than self-esteem because self-compassion is associated to “greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.”
Self-compassion is not based on judgment, facts or self-evaluation. From the other side, high self-esteem does not lead to self-compassion either. High self-esteem is often related to accomplishments. It can rise and fall when it’s in line with our successes and failures. Therefore, it can even become fuel for our critical inner voice if we fail. Self-compassion constantly involves acceptance and kindness which does not relate to our successes and our failures.
Kirstin Neff says:
“People feel compassion for themselves, because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits.”
By adopting kindness towards ourselves, we can steer away from judging ourselves too harshly and we can turn to this attitude when life becomes tough. Neff says:
“We can’t always get what we want. We can’t always be who we want to be. When this reality is denied or resisted, suffering arises in the form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with benevolence, however, we generate positive emotions of kindness and care that help us cope.”
How to achieve a self-compassionate attitude towards ourselves?
The most important thing is practicing mindfulness. With a mindful attitude, we can reduce the tendency to ruminate on negative forms of thinking and problems. We can focus on thoughts that will help us grow and change. With mindfulness, we can realize what are we doing once we become too harsh with ourselves. According to Neff’s findings, self-compassion can help us reduce anxiety and it can even help us make real changes in life. These are just among few health benefits of practicing self-compassion.