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Practice self-compassion – an act of kindness for ourselves

This was a breakthrough for me before I really knew anything about therapy, mindfulness or neuroscience. I discovered that compassion is a powerful tool and when we have compassion for ourselves, we can really improve our well-being, resilience, self-confidence and regulate our emotions. 

Often, we may find it easy to have compassion for others and even animals as part of our kindness in the world. But there is one area where often we have a deficit and that is looking after number one.  It is not selfish in any way to pay attention to ourselves but often we struggle to apply kindness to ourselves. 

If we take short moments throughout the day and hit the pause button and practice a little bit of self-compassion, we will, over time increase the quality if we make this a regular habit in our day-to-day living.

This is a mixture of the various lessons I have learned in counselling, reading, courses or handed down to me from people and colleagues where we share our experiences. 

How to practice self-compassion

  • Pause. A couple of times during the day – particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed.
  • You can cross your arms and give yourself a hug or depending on where you are, any other type of hug.
  • Start with an out-breath as this will release any tension.
  • Take a few deep breaths and each exhale should be longer than the inhale.
  • Gently soothe yourself by acknowledging your pain and suffering and reassure yourself with gentleness and kindness.
  • Offer yourself phrases of compassion, first by acknowledging what is going on for you right now.
  • You may have an inner critic or nagging voice but push this away and bring in the kind and nurturing voice.

"I am going through a difficult moment", "this will pass", "this will not last forever."

"If I am feeling this pain it is because I am human."

"When I have resilience, I can pick and explore the emotions but for now I will just remember to treat myself with compassion and kindness."

"I will imagine that I have a remote control and I can turn up the volume of kindness and use the same control to reduce the pain or worry that I have."

Useful tips

Think of some sentences that may be your thought for the day or tomorrow – you may wish to write this down on a card or on your phone so that you are reminded of it. Blank gift tags or luggage tags are great for writing these down and they can easily be put in your pocket or handbag. Some examples could be:

  • I can control this anxiety by pausing and thinking.
  • I can do some breathing exercises to regulate my emotions.
  • I accept who I am and that is OK.
  • I will soften the focus on perfectionism.
  • It is ok not to be perfect.
  • I will be non-judgemental towards myself.

Or anything else that you think is relevant for you - you can use your own creativity to see how self-compassion phrases, thoughts and quotes can be helpful for you.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Williamina Baillie MBACP - Holborn Bloomsbury City Central London or ONLINE

My name is Williamina, a person-centred counsellor for individuals, couples and relationships based in Holborn, Central London. I felt compelled to write on Self-Compassion when I was asked what was the biggest gain I had from personal therapy. My website is: www.wbcounselling.com… Read more

Written by Williamina Baillie MBACP - Holborn Bloomsbury City Central London or ONLINE

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