Forgiving and nurturing yourself can set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being.
Self-compassion yields a number of benefits, including lower levels of anxiety and depression. Self-compassionate people recognise when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, which reduces their anxiety and related depression.
While some people come by self-compassion naturally, others have to learn it. Luckily, it is a learnable skill.
Harvard psychologist Christopher Germer, in his bookThe Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, suggests that there are five ways to bring self-compassion into your life: via physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual methods.
He and other experts have proposed a variety of ways to foster self-compassion. Here are a few:
Comfort your body
Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest your body. Massage your own neck, feet or hands. Take a walk. Anything you can do to improve how you feel physically gives you a dose of self-compassion.
Write a letter (or email) to yourself
Describe a situation that caused you to feel pain (eg. a relationship break-up, losing a job, anti-social behaviour towards you). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation without blaming anyone. Acknowledge your own feelings.
Give yourself encouragement
If something bad or painful happens to you, think of what you would say to a good friend if the same thing happened to him or her. Direct this care and the compassionate responses towards yourself.
This is the non-judgemental observation of your own thoughts, feelings and actions, without trying to suppress or deny them. When you look in the mirror and are not happy with what you see, accept with ‘bad’ with the good with a compassionate attitude.