Yesterday we talked about being hugged and hugging other people. For day 9 of the Build a Better You Advent Calendar, we’re talking about hugging yourself, better known as Self compassion.
“If I am not good to myself how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” Maya Angelou
Quite a few people roll their eyes when they hear the phrase “Self compassion.” They associate it, wrongly, with weakness and self pity.
Today I want to permanently cut the cord between those ideas. Knowing when to extend compassion toward your Self is a strength that helps you manage stress and anxiety and make healthier choices for yourself about food, exercise, and more!
As I wrote earlier this year about Self Compassion, Dust off your parts that hold Empathy and Understanding and send Judgement on a vacation! It’s time to learn bring some Self Compassion to your parts.
Self Compassion means your no. 1 fan is with you at all times
You’ll notice I keep referring to “Self” with a capital letter S. And now I’ve just mentioned “parts” with a lower case p. The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of psychotherapy thinks of our inner world as a family. There is the real you, the Self, at the center. And the parts are like little people inside of you that mean well, but don’t always get you through the day in one piece.
Expanding your Self qualities builds a better you! These qualities are Calm, Compassion, Curiosity, Courage, Creativity, Connection, Confidence, and Clarity.
A Self Compassion mantra to help you be kinder to yourself
Just the other day I was struggling with technology and making one mistake after the other. In frustration I said out loud, “I hate myself.”
Immediately I followed with, “What!? Who said that?!” Then I said:
“I don’t hate myself. It is hard right now and I hate that it is so hard. I need to be kind to myself. Look at how hard I am trying and I don’t give up. I actually am very proud of myself that I keep on trying to learn this technology while it keeps on changing right in front of me.”
When it is difficult to speak kindly to your self in your mind, a mantra is helpful. It is a memorized saying that you can repeat over and over to yourself until you feel calmer.
If you’re not sure what to tell yourself, try this mantra from Kristin Neff, PhD:
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is a part of life.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the compassion I need.
Use it to practice this new behavior of befriending your Self with compassion – hugging yourself. It is needed when learning a new behavior and stopping the old habit of self criticism.
Think you might need some help learning to give yourself a break?
I’m here to help. While I’m typically based out of Stockholm, I often work virtually with English-speaking clients across the globe. Drop me a line via my contact form.