You might have heard people say that we need to be more self-compassionate. What does that mean? In this post I point to a recent article found on the excellent website Psyche that digs into what it actually looks like to be more self-compassionate. Reading time (this post) ~ 3 minutes. Reading time (article) ~ 10 minutes.
If you’ve seen my ‘Reading/ Listening/ Watching list‘ you’ll know that the website Psyche is a regular read of mine.
I particularly like their ‘Guides‘ which provide practical advice on how to implement different therapeutic ideas in one’s life.
Their latest one on self-compassion caught my eye.
Self-compassion is a topic that counsellors speak about regularly with students and which appears in the Be Well Plan program that we deliver to students. We even have a brief self-compassion guide which outlines a couple of self-compassion techniques: self-compassionate letter and self-compassion break.
I admittedly have a mixed personal history with the topic of self-compassion. When I first started learning about it, it felt like a concept with little substance, basically just another way to say ‘be kind to yourself’. But as I interacted with the concept more (through my training in Be Well and interacting with other trainers), my views started to shift. I started to view the concept as an important addition to the psychological toolkit of anyone working hard to achieve an important goal.
The pursuit of a challenging goal (e.g. doing a degree) is always going to consist of setbacks and failures. How we talk to ourselves during those setbacks influences whether we stick at the goal or bail out. Building an internal self-compassionate voice is an important part of staying connected to what is most important to us, even during times of difficulty.
But as with many psychological concepts, explanations of self-compassion sometimes don’t dig far enough into the practical aspect of how to activate it in our lives. Hence I was interested to see the topic pop up in Psyche Guides, given their recent history of providing practical descriptions of how to apply psychological concepts.
I won’t linger long on why I like the article (I’d rather you read it and see for yourself) but a few things about it stand out in a positive way.
- self-compassion is an ally as you navigate the inherently challenging aspects of life.
- many of us have grown up believing and having self-criticism modelled to us as the main model of self-development but it has many flaws.
- self-compassion isn’t easy. It isn’t the ‘easy way out’ that some might think it to be. It is a disciplined model of responding to the challenges of life that keeps us connected to our goals, ourselves and others.
- self-compassion does involve learning to harness some of the wisdom of self-criticism, without the negative self-evaluation components.
- self-compassion points us to the facts of a situation, rather than the judgements we make about the situation.
- self-compassion isn’t just how we think, its how we use simple acts of self-touch for soothing.
- identifying our values, what is most important to us, helps us apply self-compassion directly to our needs, rather than as a vague form of self-kindness
See what you think. Does the article provide you with tangible guidance on developing a self-compassionate internal voice?
If you want to learn more psychological tools like self-compassion, consider doing the Be Well Plan, a comprehensive and evidence-based mental health and resilience program offered to students.