Self-Compassion – Feel the (Self) Love!

There are so many benefits to practicing self-compassion, these are simple everyday practices to help you love yourself!

Self-compassion, self-love or loving kindness is a tough one to grasp, when you have always been your worst critic.

I discovered self-compassion only a few years ago, when doing a free mindfulness course on Future Learn.  To me, self-compassion is to give yourself understanding, love and self-acceptance, it is about turning off that critical inner voice and listening to that compassionate understanding voice inside you.  It feels good to be compassionate towards your self and it really isn’t too difficult, but does take regular practice.  Unfortunately, I don’t always practice this on a regular basis, but it is on my daily good habits wishlist.

What is Self-Compassion?

Feeling compassion for anyone is to understand and empathise with that person, to take it a step further you may show that person compassion by talking empathetically with them, showing them you understand their pain, trying to help them or simply giving them a great big hug.  At times when we are feeling low, there is nothing like a genuine hug, it tells us that the person hugging us understands our feelings and above all accepts us, this can give us great comfort in that moment.  So, to be able to give ourselves that kind of comfort when we most need it, is quite something, unfortunately, we often don’t do that because we have learned to punish ourselves by criticizing either what we have done or haven’t or simply shaming ourselves for our flaws or feelings.

Benefits of Self-Compassion

The feeling of self-love is compounding, it continues to grow and makes you feel relaxed, calm, and self accepting.  Would you treat others as badly as you treat yourself? No, so why punish yourself with your negative self talk.  The thing is, when you practice self-compassion, you find yourself being more compassionate towards others, so they benefit too.  Once your physical body is taking care of, one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing is to practice self-compassion.

Self-Compassion Practices

Meditation

My favourite practice is mindful meditation specifically for self-compassion, guided ones are the best for beginners, doing meditations really helps you to focus on love and compassion towards yourself.  We are human and therefore all make mistakes, self-compassion helps you accept those mistakes regardless of what the consequences were and only by accepting how you feel can you move on to the self-love part.

Apps are a great way to start, You Tube is also great for free meditations, both guided and non-guided and there are plenty specifically for self-compassion, some are short, 10 minutes for example, others are 9 hours for whilst you are asleep, these are subliminal.  My favourite Apps are Calm and Headspace, there are some free guided meditations if you don’t want to subscribe to them or just want to test them out.

If you are in a bad place right now, I recommend practicing daily, even for just 5 minutes, but preferably 10.  If you have no time at all, do a sleep meditation, everyone has to sleep.  Even a daily minute of self-love practice is better than none.

Self-Care

I include self-care as a practice for self compassion, self care makes you feel good about yourself and it can include anything that makes you feel good.  I have regular self-care days which include a long soak in the bath, usually with Epsom Salts (for detoxing) or Himalayan Salts (for relaxation) which leaves you with the softest skin.  I make sure I soak between 20-40 minutes to absorb the benefits of the salts.  Whilst I am lying there so long I do some mindful meditation.

Other things I do are giving myself a facial; double cleansing, face mask, essential oils (patchouli) this is my favourite and its good for aging skin too.  I don’t know what it is about this oil, but for me it gives me a huge sense of self-love and calm, funnily enough when I first used I wasn’t keen on it, but it is my favourite now.  If I want to feel good after a bath I put this on my face, neck and chest, it instantly makes me feel safe and cosy.  Everyone is different, so trial some, you can get 10ml bottles to try them out, find the oil that works for you, do your research though, some oils are not recommended to put directly on your skin without a carrier oil.

I will body brush, do my nails, deep condition my hair with ‘Bleach London Silver Conditioner‘ by leaving it on at least 1 hour, usually whilst I am in the bath, lather myself in my favourite vegan ‘Lavera‘ body lotion and put something comfortable on, then sit and read a book.  I would do these things everyday if I could, but as you know when your working you simply don’t have the time, but make sure you do at least once a week, your mind will thank you for it.

Journaling

Journaling helps with self-awareness, thus bringing out the empathy and understanding  you need to be compassionate towards yourself.

I love to write things down, if I am struggling with something, if I am angry  with myself or others, I tend to write down my feelings, but I try to do it from a sympathetic perspective. Rather than express just my anger, I will write down how I feel  and then try to write something about understanding why that person did or said what they said, not to justify their actions but to understand them.  This really helps me to not hold on to  negative emotions, so that when I see that person again I feel more compassionate towards them, which in turn makes me feel good.  Anger  hurts ourselves, more than anyone else.

Final Thoughts

We all suffer in one way or another, we can’t always escape what life throws at us, the best we can do is accept unavoidable suffering in order to minimize it, practicing self-compassion is one way of doing this. Go love yourself, you deserve it!

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Different Stages in Life!

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I have been thinking a lot lately about where we all are in life at the moment, I have read some great blogs from young bloggers and I think ‘Wow’, they know so much more about ‘intentional living’ than I did at their age, in fact, I had never even heard of ‘intentional living’, they are so lucky.  At 50, I am only starting to ‘wake up’ and rather than think ‘fate’ will foretell my journey, I am realising that I am the author of my life.

Why has it took me so long to come to this realisation?  Apart from being a bit slow, I am not sure, except that I have been caught up in the strains and stresses of working, living and everything else that came my way.  Anyway, I am here now and intend to make the rest of my life better, cleaner, and more purposeful.

In fact, I have reached the point where I resent the fact that I have to go to work just to try keep up with my mortgage, bills and £18,000 personal debts, mainly on credit cards.  I am currently on a DMP (Debt Management Plan) with Step Change because after living on my credit cards (due to overspending), I got to the stage where I simply ran out of credit and could no longer make the minimum payments.  These debts have caused me a huge amount of stress and worry.  I have also realised my spending is related to my mental health, whenever I have felt low, I have gone on a little spending spree, at one stage there was barely a day I didn’t buy something.

The realisation that my spending habits relate to how I feel at any given time, has made me realise, there are other (cheaper) ways  to feel good.  Realising that link between my mental health and over spending, the consumer trap I have fallen in to, buying in to consumerism and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ is enough to make me change my ways.

I no longer browse online when I am bored, I carefully consider if I really want / need an item before purchasing, I also put in my planner on pay-day 1 or 2 things I ‘plan’ to buy, things I have given careful consideration to purchasing, sometimes by the time pay day comes along I have changed my mind.

I have not worked out exactly how old I will be by the time my debts are paid off, but at the rate I am paying them off now, I will be over 100 years old taking the interest into account. This is not how I want to spend my retirement years, this is not what I have worked so hard for all my life.  I came to the conclusion that the only other option is to increase my income and eventually (hopefully within 3-5 years) hand my notice in to a job I have not an ounce of interest in anymore, this lack of interest is down to my own self-realisation in what I can and want to achieve; help people in some way, no matter how small to improve their own lives, if we all share what we know, we will gain many lifetimes of knowledge, how wonderful is that!.