It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
Just for a moment, forget about all your standard New Year’s resolutions. It goes without saying that most of us want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser – but what if we’re going about it all wrong? Have we ever really stopped to wonder whether it’s possible to shame and “should” ourselves into going to the gym more or eating better?
Luckily, there’s another solution. Allow me to introduce you to a lovely practice called Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). Mindfulness is the foundation of MSC. Why? Because we need to become aware of and acknowledge our suffering in order to respond to our discomfort with kindness. Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would act towards a dear friend when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.
Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “tough it out” mentality, you can stop to tell yourself, “This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, you are kind and understanding towards yourself when confronted with personal failings. After all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?
You may try to change in ways that allow you to be healthier and happier, but when you are mindfully showing yourself compassion, you change because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means you honor and accept your humanness.
Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, and losses will occur; you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, and fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.
Embrace the Yin and Yang of self-compassion: Yin and Yang are ancient Chinese representations of two ways energy can be in the universe. Yin refers to energy that is more passive and directed inward, while Yang refers to energy that is more active and directed outward. Unfortunately, many of us spend a lot of time worrying about whether our personal way of being in the world is too much or not enough. In thinking about the Yin and Yang of self-compassion, consider accepting yourself and your energetic way of being as “just right,” just as you are. Keep your eye on the ball and focus on self-compassion, whether it’s the soft kind or the fierce kind.
Treat yourself like you would your dearest friend: When a friend we love is going through a tough time or not feeling their best, we go out of our way to lift their spirits, encourage them, and let them know they are loved. In 2020, commit to treating yourself like your very best friend. Give yourself gentle, loving touches such as a hand on your heart or your arms wrapped around your shoulders. Acknowledge and support yourself through difficult moments (aloud or in your head) by saying things like, “Wow, this is really hard. I know how much this hurts. And I know you can get through it.” Write yourself a love letter as if you were writing to your nearest and dearest, then read it aloud. Shower yourself with compassion and understanding.
Take time away from the 24-hour news cycle: News flash: it’s an election year, and that means the already chaotic 24-hour news cycle we’ve coped with the last four years will only get more intense. Give yourself permission to step away, turn off the TV, and steer clear of political social media streams when you need a break. Instead, take this time to do something positive and impactful – something that makes you feel good and helps others. Volunteer in your community. Donate to a charity for a cause you’re passionate about. Positive actions will lift your spirits while also lifting up those around you.
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