Give Yourself a Break: The Power of Self-Compassion

Tired woman with laptop at her desk, appearing stressed by problems.

We were often told by our peers that life is a rat-race and we must run faster if we wish to achieve any happiness and self-worth in life. (Image: Anyaberkut via Dreamstime)

As kids, you may have often found yourself being eager to “grow up” and do all the “grown-up stuff” you had seen your elder siblings or relatives do. While being an adult certainly has many perks, the downsides, though few, are more than enough to cut out the fun side. As you grow up, you often learn to blame others and yourself while unlearning the simple concept of forgiveness. Being compassionate is important, but learning self-compassion is even more essential.

Guilt is an emotion that often takes deep roots within and if you come from an abusive upbringing, then this guilt often becomes your life-long companion. Statistics have shown that over 40 percent of the world’s population indulges in self-blame and suffers from major depressive disorders. Such people are not always aggressive; rather, there is something defeated in them that makes them get deeper into the cycle of self-blame and self-hate.

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Importance of self-compassion

In his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, Harvard psychologist Dr. Chris Germer discusses the importance of self-compassion. He says:

“Actually, when bad things happen to us, we tend to have three unfortunate reactions: self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-absorption. Self-compassion can direct us exactly in the opposite direction: self-kindness, recognizing the common humanity in our experience, and a balanced approach to negative emotions.”

What he means by this is that while it is easy to blame and punish yourself, it is that much more difficult to forgive and love yourself, and this self-love is very essential for a balanced state of mind-body-spirit.

Ways to practice self-compassion

Dr. Germer highlights the fact that self-compassion is not something genetic that you either have or don’t have. It is a skill that might come naturally to some, but that can be learned by others so that they can become good at it too. All it takes is daily practice and dedication. Considering that we are talking about a habit that can lead to feeling stronger and happier, it is one that is definitely worth developing.

Write a letter to yourself

Letters can still play an essential role in communicating emotions and they bring immense joy to the receiver. Whenever you feel like something is dragging you down or you are going through a difficult time, write a letter to yourself. Describe the incident and your feelings. Once you get it all out, the need to self-blame diminishes to a great extent.

A person holding a fountain pen over a sheet of paper with a stack of evelopes tied with a red ribbon beside them on a desk with pink, yellow, and white flowers in the background.
Whenever you feel like something is dragging you down or you are going through a difficult time, try writing it all out in a letter to yourself. (Image: Sue Harper via Dreamstime)

Encourage yourself

We often rely so much on validation from others that we forget we have the ability to provide self-validation. The idea that you should be encouraging yourself, recognizing your own strengths, speaking to yourself with kindness, and accepting your feelings and flaws is not some crazy notion. Rather, when you show kindness to yourself, you tend to flourish better.

Learn to forgive

Forgiveness is simple in theory, though we often find it hard in practice. If you have set a goal for yourself but failed, learn to know that it is okay. You are allowed to fail. You will learn from it and not repeat the same mistakes. Make an apology to yourself, accept the apology, and let yourself be free from the festering guilt.

Spend more time doing what you enjoy

Living a hectic life often makes you lose track of your hobbies. Self-compassion also, in a way, teaches you time management. Learn to prioritize yourself and do what you love. Take some time to go for walks, shut out the world and read, make crafts, or simply sleep. Whatever you do, do not feel guilty about it, for you, too, deserve a break and a chance to recharge.

Self-compassion means giving yourself a break and a chance to recharge.
Give yourself a break and a chance to recharge. (Image: Silverblack via Dreamstime)

Learn a new skill

Learning often brings with it a sense of dread and fear of failing. Understand that the world already has some great names in different fields. You need not be a Pelé, but you can learn to play soccer at 30. There is no age limit to learning if you are dedicated and enjoy the process. This will also help you let go of judgmental feelings.

When you learn to forgive yourself and care for your mental well-being, you will often set in motion the circumstances that will lead you to the exact things you require — a proper and healthy relationship, a better mindset, a job you love, and a sense of satisfaction.

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