The Power of Self-Compassion

What exactly is self-compassion? And, how is it different from self-care? We asked ourselves this question after reading the January 24, 2020 article The How to Practice Self-Compassion In The New Year published in Forbes.

Self-compassion is about being kinder and gentler to yourself. Whereas self-care includes caring activities you can do for yourself, like time in nature, a warm bath and relaxing with a cup of tea.

Self-compassion is a state of mind, a choice about how to feel. It’s about allowing and feeling less pressure. It’s how we view ourselves and how we talk to ourselves.

A 2017 study published in Health Psychology Open cited in the Forbes article found self-compassionate people are better at handling stress than those who are not.

The author, Frances Bridge, shares 5 ways you can be more compassionate with yourself. When applying these to family caregivers, a couple really stood out to us here at Breathing Spaces. They include “be cognizant of how you speak to yourself” and “abandon perfection.

What’s interesting about both of these is that they don’t require any more effort than you’re already expending to get through long days of your own responsibilities as well as caring for your loved one(s).

Let’s take the first one. Speak lovingly to yourself. With just simple and consistent tweaks, you can be kinder to yourself. That means stopping negative talk as soon as it happens and shifting it to positive.

Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of “that took forever,” say, “great job getting that done!”

  • Instead of “I’m always late,” say, “I’m happy I got myself here safely.”

  • Instead of “I can’t do anything right,” say, “I am learning as I go.”

  • Instead of “what did I do to deserve this,” say, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

  • Instead of “I made a bad choice,” say, “this is an opportunity for growth.”

In essence, talk to yourself as you would speak to a loved one.

“Most caregivers are reluctant to treat themselves with the same kindness and compassion that they treat others, start with how you talk to yourself.” – Frances Bridge, writer

The second one that struck a chord is to abandon perfection. Let things go! By doing less you free up time to live more. And, most importantly, you free up “head space” which means less overwhelm and anxiousness.

Pull back a little from striving for perfection. Likely, you’re the only one who sees the difference between “good enough” and perfection. But not only you will realize the benefit, your loved one(s) will too.

No matter what type or stage of caregiving you are in, or really for anyone at all, these tips should provide much needed relief and set you up for the happiness you deserve.

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