Have you ever had moments of being self-critical and self-judgmental?  If you have, you are not alone. The thing is, sometimes we are aware of our self-criticism while other times we are not.  These thoughts can be automatic which is why increasing our awareness of this self-criticism, belittling and self-judgment can be so impactful.  The thoughts of “I’m not good enough,” “I can’t do this” or “I’m a failure” whether we are aware of it or not can leave us feeling anxious, stressed and depressed.

However, there’s another way.

It’s the practice of self-compassion, which can change the way you feel, the way you respond to adversity and the trajectory of your life.  Self-compassion is a practice of being kind and understanding to yourself.  When you consciously practice self-compassion, you allow yourself to receive love and kindness.  The more you practice these compassionate moments you can begin to increase your feelings of well-being, optimism, less fear of failure, increase your resilience to stress and improve your emotional/mental and physical well-being.

Next time you feel you made a mistake, errored in some way, you hurt someone, failed at something or are encountering another challenging life situation consider these 4 steps.

4 quick steps to practice Self-Compassion when you notice your self-critic rearing its ugly teeth.

1.  Take a pause perhaps even a few deep breaths.

Think of what you would say and the tone of voice you would use if you were talking to your friend, your partner, the person you love, your pet, that was going through a stressful or challenging time.   Consider asking yourself, what could you say to yourself at this moment that would be kind, understanding and supportive?  When you are hurting what would you like someone to say to you?

2.  Practice mindfulness for even a few minutes.

By being present this will allow you to observe what you are saying to yourself in that moment rather than allowing the self-critical rant to go on autopilot.  Ask yourself, is what I’m saying to myself at this moment supportive, understanding or kind?  If not, “use your words” to your advantage for self-compassion.  Condition your thinking one thought and one word at a time. If you forget, it’s okay, start over.

3.  Practice Self-care.

Self-care can be an act of self-compassion and nurturance. Some examples include taking a walk, talking with a supportive person, spending time in nature, listening to your favorite music, reading/listening to an inspiring book/podcast, petting a furry friend, going for a work-out, journaling/writing, meditation, massage, yoga, positive self-talk, deep breathing exercises and eating a healthy meal. Choose the self-care action that resonates with you.

4.  Practice Self-Acceptance.

It’s a practice of accepting yourself as you are not who you think you should be.  It’s a practice of accepting your humanness and all.  We are all human and imperfect and it’s okay.  We all make mistakes, have vulnerabilities and can feel we have failed at something or failed someone.  It’s accepting that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have.  Think of this as a daily practice or work in progress.  Plant the seeds of self-compassion that you want to grow, one seed at a time.

Celebrate your compassionate moments daily no matter how small.  This can reinforce these compassionate thoughts, feelings, and actions which in turn can boost your resilience to stress, increase your optimism, feelings of happiness and can create a positive trajectory for your life.

Share your self-compassionate practices with others on Instagram at #coachingtofulfillment