4 ways to boost your self-compassion

Take a moment to think about how you treat yourself when you make a mistake or fail to reach a goal. If you tend to beat yourself up when things go wrong, you, like most people, can use a little more self-compassion in your life.

Forgiving and nurturing yourself seem to have benefits in their own right. Strong self-compassion can even set the stage for better health, relationships, and general well-being. So far, research has revealed a number of benefits of self-compassion. Lower levels of anxiety and depression have been observed in people with higher self-compassion. Self-compassionate people recognize when they are suffering and are kind to themselves at these times, thereby lowering their own levels of related anxiety and depression.

Learn to have self-compassion

Some people come by self-compassion naturally, but not everyone does. Luckily, it is a learnable skill. Several methods have been proposed, and training programs are being developed, to help people discover and cultivate their own self-compassion.

Here are four ways to give your self-compassion skills a quick boost:

  • Comfort your body. Eat something healthy. Lie down and rest. 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 to yourself. Think of a situation that caused you to feel pain (a breakup with a lover, a job loss, a poorly received presentation). Write a letter to yourself describing the situation, but without blaming anyone — including yourself. Use this exercise to nurture your feelings.
  • Give yourself encouragement. Think of what you would say to a good friend if he or she was facing a difficult or stressful situation. Then, when you find yourself in this kind of situation, direct these compassionate responses toward yourself.
  • Practice mindfulness. Even a quick exercise, such as meditating for a few minutes, can be a great way to nurture and accept ourselves while we’re in pain.

For more ways to draw on your strengths and find the positive meaning in your life, review Positive Psychology, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6  NIV

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40 NIV

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3 NIV

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. Romans 14:1 NIV

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 NIV

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV

I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30 NIV

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