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  • Alainnah Knight

What Does It Mean To Practice Self-Compassion?

A term that is tossed around, prescribed, encouraged, and yet so hard to understand for so many of us. What is it? What does it mean? How do we be compassionate towards ourselves? Self-compassion can feel like a foreign language when you have lived a life where you believe that growth only comes from shaming yourself. But what if I told you that maybe even more growth and joy could come from self-compassion? What if I told you that you wouldn't fail, or set yourself back if you had self-compassion? What if I told you that shaming your way into growth isn't the most effective way? Notice what comes up in your thoughts and body when reading through these questions.


What is Self-Compassion?

A fern in Washington, known has a cleansing and rebirthing symbol.

Self-compassion can be described as being kind and understanding. Simple, right? I know I know, not really. If we grew up in an environment where kindness and understanding were not present, this can be a foreign concept to us. We may not understand even HOW to be kind and understanding when every "mistake" or "mess up" we made as a child may have been met with ridicule and disbelief. We have to understand that this is another skill that we get to learn, we get to explore what it feels like to be compassionate towards ourselves in this moment. This is called reparenting!


Why Is Reparenting Important In Self-Compassion?

When we reparent ourselves, we are quite literally offering ourselves the support and kindness that a parent should offer that inner child of yours. For example, imagine you spilled a cup of water as a child, how would your caretakers react? What would their immediate reaction be? Now when you spill something how do you respond to yourself? How do you talk to yourself for making a "mistake"? If you notice yourself ridiculing or speaking to yourself poorly, take note. This is a moment where you could reparent yourself. Imagine you are speaking to a younger version of yourself, what would you say to them for spilling that glass of water? How would you comfort them and offer them kindness and understanding?


Self-compassion starts small. It starts with noticing and acknowledging the inner critic within us and understanding them, but also offering them kindness. Let's talk about five small (but they aren't really small, they are huge but they just trick your body into thinking they are small) ways you can start practicing self-compassion


Five Small Ways To Start Practice Self-Compassion


Set A Timer To Check-In With Body

Checking in with our body and honoring any needs is a huge form of self-compassion. It can be so easy to get swept up in the busyness of the day and put our bodies on the back burner. Setting a timer on your phone for every hour, every few hours, or however often can help us remember to come back to our breath and our bodies for a moment. This does not have to be a huge process, this can simply be seeing the reminder, closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and just noticing how your body feels. See if you need any water, food, maybe a short walk, or any other need!


Sticky Notes Around The House

Introducing a new idea can be hard, it is so easy to fall back into our old ways and thought patterns. Setting up sticky notes with affirmations (or iffirmations), a mantra, or any kind of affirming thoughts throughout your house, office, car, or any place that can help remind your brain and create consistency and practice.

Here are a few ideas to put on sticky notes around your house:


  • What if I allowed myself to be understanding of this experience?

  • I am worthy of kindness.

  • Breathe. One step at a time.

  • I am so strong and resilient.

  • What can I offer myself in this moment?

  • What need of mine can I honor right now?


Take 5 Minutes for YOU

5 minutes. Just five minutes! Take five minutes, without your phone, without other people, without distractions, just to be. Bring your attention to your breath and just notice your body, without judgment. Take a moment of silence and stillness in this busy world. Just taking a moment to pause is a beautiful form of self-compassion.


Celebrate ANY Achievement or Growth

That inner critic is really going to try to diminish any bit of growth. BUT CELEBRATE EVEN WHAT YOU MAY THINK IS THE SMALLEST GROWTH! Because growth is growth gosh darn it. Even becoming aware of that inner critic is growth. Did you notice how you were talking to yourself and acknowledged that it wasn't making you feel good? GROWTH! Did you take a moment to even read about self-compassion because you're curious? GROWTH! Be proud of yourself for breaking those cycles and even being here, that is amazing!


Check-In With Needs

Our body is going to have needs every single day and meeting those needs is a form of self-compassion. Fueling your body with nutrients, hydrating yourself, moving your body, engaging in social interactions, or maybe taking some time to yourself. Close your eyes and take a few breaths, notice what your body is wanting in this moment. Can you offer that to yourself? Notice how you feel if you do offer yourself that!


Lastly,

Just be curious! Collect data and explore a little more about yourself in this journey. Notice what works, what you're resistant to, and what you know does not work. Build trust in yourself by offering self-compassion. You can check out our blog on why self-compassion is so important in healing trauma if you would like more!


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