4 Tips for Treating Yourself With Compassion

Are you your own worst critic? Maybe you hold yourself to impossibly high standards. Maybe you find it hard to forgive your own mistakes. Maybe you’re quick to blame yourself and slow to praise yourself. If so, you’re not alone. Many people tend to be harder on themselves than they are on others.

But being too self-critical isn’t healthy. It can leave you feeling anxious and depressed. Try, instead, to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Be proud of who you are. This is known as self-compassion. Being kind to yourself may help you feel less stressed. And it can make you more resilient when you face obstacles in life.

If you find it hard to be kind to yourself, here are 4 tips that may help:

  1. Treat yourself the way you would treat a loved one. Be as kind and compassionate to yourself as you would be to a loved one. If you make a mistake, don’t berate and criticize yourself. After all, that’s not how you would treat a loved one who messed up. More likely you would be understanding of your loved one’s mistake. You might encourage him to forgive himself and get back on the right track.
  2. Take a self-compassion break. When you are being hard on yourself, take a step back. Acknowledge that you are upset with yourself. But reassure yourself that you are not the only one who makes mistakes. Everyone messes up from time to time. Then finish up by saying something kind or compassionate to yourself. For instance, you might say, “I forgive myself,” or, “I love myself,” or “I accept myself.”
  3. Reframe your critical thoughts about yourself. When you catch yourself thinking something unkind about yourself, pause for a moment. Try and reframe that thought in a more positive and more realistic way. Say you catch yourself thinking, “I’m stupid.” How could you reframe that thought? You might instead think, “I misunderstood something.” Or you might say, “I didn’t have all the information that I needed.”
  4. Brainstorm more positive and productive ways to achieve what you want to achieve. When you make mistakes, you get mad at yourself because you didn’t achieve what you wanted to. But being hard on yourself may not be the best, or healthiest motivator. Try instead to think of positive and productive ways you can achieve your desired behavior. For instance, maybe you could use healthy rewards to motivate you to work out or eat healthy foods. When you make it to the gym or resist a sugary dessert, you can reward yourself by reading a good book or playing a video game. That might work better than getting upset with yourself if you skip the gym or indulge in the sugary dessert.

Self-compassion doesn’t mean you don’t admit or take responsibility for your mistakes. In fact, it’s a good idea to acknowledge when you mess up. Rather, self-compassion involves setting proper expectations for yourself. You aren’t perfect. You will mess up from time to time. Everyone does. And when you do, it’s okay. You can learn from your mistakes. Being more kind toward yourself can improve your overall well-being.