How to Practice Self-Compassion: Tips and Techniques

Do you treat yourself with kindness and compassion just like you treat a good friend? If you are struggling with giving yourself a break, read this post to learn what self-compassion means and how you can practice it to build a healthier life. 

What is Self-Compassion? 

Do you ever blame, criticize, or even beat yourself after a stressful event or encounter? This is perhaps the habit you have developed without even realizing it, but this can damage your mental health! 

Self-compassion is something that can help you become more understanding and warm toward yourself. This is the ability to forgive yourself, accept your flaws, and show yourself love. 

Experts usually define self-compassion in three ways:

If you often criticize, blame, and judge yourself, you might need a little more self-compassion in your life. Luckily, studies have concluded that you can learn self-compassion, and that is what we are going to help you with.

How Can I Be More Self-Compassionate? 

Three approaches can help you develop self-compassion in a greater sense. 

  • Developing self-kindness and reducing self-judgment 
  • Choosing common humanity over isolation 
  • Working to become mindful and diminishing over-identification. 

We have rounded up 8 tips that can help you work on these approaches and develop high self-compassion. 

1.    Journal Your Negative Thoughts 

If you are actively trying to develop self-compassion, it will be helpful to maintain a journal recording the occurrences where you felt negatively about yourself. It might be very helpful if you pen down the emotions you felt while judging yourself. 

Journal the negative occurrences and revisit the events in a judgment-free way. Ask yourself questions like “how this self-criticism helped me?” and “How can I see things differently?”

2.    Try Mirror Work

Mirror positivity is an excellent exercise you can do to practice self-compassion. In a recent study, researchers found that looking in a mirror for a whole 10 minutes can stir in negative thoughts, self-judgment, and consciousness about body image. 

While looking at yourself in the mirror for this long might sound uncomfortable, this is exactly what you may need to develop self-compassion. 

Practicing mirror work will just require a bit of your time, some positive affirmations, and a mirror. 

This exercise includes saying positive affirmations like “I love myself” or “I respect my body” whenever you look in the mirror. Doing this regularly will help you silence your inner critic, develop self-kindness, and believe in the words you are saying. 

3.    Speak to Yourself Like a Friend 

If you are going through a disappointing phase in your life and finding it extremely hard to be kind to yourself, start acting like a compassionate friend. 

Transform your inner voice from a harsh critic to a loving friend who is there to reassure and support you during this tough phase. Ask yourself:

  • What would a friend say in this situation?
  • How would your friend comfort you?
  • Will they say the harsh things you are currently thinking about yourself? 

You can also consider writing a letter to yourself saying all the things a close friend would say. This exercise can really help you develop self-compassion and deal with things in a better way. 

4.    Try the Three Chair Exercise 

The three-chair exercise is one of the most effective exercises for self-compassion. It includes placing three chairs in front of you and designating one chair as your inner critic, one as yourself being criticized, and one as a non-biased, compassionate observer. 

This exercise can be extremely helpful when you are in a tough spot, and unable to make informed decisions. You have to role-play all three parts yourself and analyze your feelings in different scenarios. 

5.    Drop the Negative Self-Talk 

If you have a habit of talking negatively to yourself, you need to change it in order to develop self-compassion. One of the ways you can do this is by replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations. 

Identify what words you normally use for yourself while internally criticizing yourself and change them with positive affirmations and gestures. You can consider keeping a journal and writing down negative thoughts that occur in a day and contradicting them with something good that you find about yourself. 

Positive and affirming physical gestures are also considered helpful in dropping negative self-talk as they release oxytocin in your body, making you feel more warm and compassionate! 

6.    Learn the Art of Giving 

In a fascinating study, researchers gave participants $5 each day to spend however they liked. Most of the participants either spent the money on themselves or gave it to someone who needed it. 

  • Here’s what the researchers found at the end:
  • People who spent money on themselves experienced joy for only short-term 
  • People who gave money to charity or donated felt contended every time they spent the money

So, you see the point? Giving gifts to somebody or donating money brings a feeling of self-love. This can be an extremely helpful exercise if you are finding it hard to love yourself at the moment. 

7.    Read a Book 

A study found that reading fiction books increases the connectivity in our brains and enhances our ability to empathize. 

If you enjoy reading, settling in a cozy chair with a good fictional book can drag you out of self-doubt and help you increase self-compassion. This is because fiction has the power of emotionally transporting you to another world, triggering empathetic feelings, and helping you delve into others’ dilemmas. 

8.    Give yourself a Hug

Do you know that physical touch and affirming gestures can help reduce stress levels in our bodies? A big hug can always help you rebuild your self-esteem, shut down your inner critic, and develop a sense of self-love. 

While giving a hug to yourself might sound odd, it may help you prevent talking negatively to yourself and letting your inner critic run wild. 

So, hug yourself once in a while to reassure yourself and positively influence your thoughts. 

Learn more: 7 Tips to Protect Yourself from Toxic Social Media.