Developing self-love and compassion is a practice that takes patience and daily effort. There’s no quick fix or hack that gets us there overnight, it’s a life-long practice complete with hurdles and occasional setbacks but nothing that we can’t work through.
I’m committed to walking the path while holding self-love and compassion at the heart of everything I do…but just like you, I’m learning as I go.
While our starting points and personal challenges might look different, ultimately we’re seeking the same thing and so I wanted to share a few things that help me in the hope that it offers you inspiration or a starting point on your own path.
In essence, self-compassion is showing yourself the same love and understanding that you would for someone else. Sounds simple really, doesn’t it? But, it’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of us. Most of us spend more time berating ourselves for not being smart enough, qualified enough, thin enough or not being the perfect parent. We let our inner critics take over and we suffer its cruel words; words that we’d never use when speaking to someone else. Sound familiar? Try this…next time you hear critical self-talk, visualise it with volume control and turn it down - right down until it’s nothing more than a whisper. You can also speak back to it, without harshness or judgement. Acknowledge that you’ve heard it but that you don’t need to hear any more right now. Then remind yourself of something positive that you know to be true - and much kinder.
Focus on Your Strengths
We live in a culture that encourages us to focus on what we lack and to spend our time improving our weaknesses; it feels liberating to do the opposite and concentrate on your strengths. Take time to think about what you’re good at, what you’ve learnt in this lifetime, revisit your proudest moments and think about what you love the most about yourself. Try writing down everything about yourself that you feel grateful for. It might feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’ve never done it before but stay in the moment and see what comes up for you. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the things you can add to your list.
I was first introduced to EFT (emotional freedom technique) over a decade ago while visiting a local mind, body and spirit event. It’s often called ‘tapping’, and it stimulates your body’s energy meridian points by tapping on them with your fingertips; using your energy to heal both mind and body. I studied it for a while but didn’t make it a consistent part of my day until a few years ago when I added it to my morning ritual. It typically only takes me 5-10 minutes to do and it’s helped me tackle many of my default negative thought patterns. It’s easy to get started - simply have faith and follow the actions and scripts - you’ll find some great intro videos on YouTube...I personally love Brad Yates videos. Of course, for more personalised and in-depth work you can seek out a local EFT practitioner.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Many of our negative and critical thought patterns have been running on autopilot since we were children, and so they can be a challenge to identify in our daily lives. Learning to observe these patterns is the key to changing them. Meditation and mindfulness are both practices that help us to slow down long enough to do this - and also create space around the thoughts running around your mind. Don’t feel as though you need to meditate for hours or take yourself off on a silent retreat to get results. I started with just 2 minutes a day and built up my practice from there - start from where you are and take it one step at a time. If you’re seeking more self-love and compassion then I encourage you to begin a meditation practice.
Create Daily Support
It helps to have a plan in place for those days when you struggle to show yourself the kindness and compassion you deserve. Keep it simple; I like to use the following questions to get my mind moving in the right direction:
How can I support myself today?
How can I show myself kindness?
What makes me feel loved?
Create a list of simple things that help you feel loved and supported; taking time to enjoy your tea in the mornings, snuggling into your softest bed linen, creating a nourishing meal, spending time outdoors. We all have those small things that bring us comfort and make us feel loved - start with those and be sure to build them into your day.
Anyone else find it difficult to celebrate themselves? I know that I’m not alone here! Most of us wait for outside validation; someone to praise our work or buy us a gift to express their love. You don’t need anyone else to tell you how wonderful you are. Create time to celebrate and appreciate yourself. Write down everything that you’re celebrating and then treat yourself - that could be a few quiet moments spent in gratitude, a bunch of your favourite flowers, a longer yoga class than usual or a chilled glass of bubbles...the choice is yours!
I hope that these simple tips have inspired you to think about how you approach self-love and compassion in your life and how taking a few small changes could help you to feel so much more nourished and supported.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.