Failing to try to change the nature of our core values – which is a difficult process – it is possible to limit their influence by adapting the image that we give of ourselves. We can begin to do this by showing self-compassion.
Self-compassion is about being gentle, kind, and understanding with yourself, accepting that you are not perfect, and understanding that every mistake you make has potential for learning and of growth.
Make peace with your inner critic.
People usually try to hide their flaws in order to maintain a positive image of themselves. With self-compassion, people can actually increase their knowledge and clarity about their own limitations.
You would think this could end in a downward spiral, but self-compassion has been found to be positively correlated with better mental health and greater life satisfaction. So what can we do to transform our inner critic into a gentle support? Traditional cognitive skills training has proven to be rather ineffective in this area.
A 2010 study randomly assigned college freshmen one of three workbooks for depression: traditional cognitive, nontraditional cognitive, and academic skills. The study found that participants with high rumination rates had significantly higher levels of depression, and that cognitive training worsened rumination in the subjects. This study shows that, rather than working on the cognitive level, one needs to tackle the inner critic in a different way: through self-awareness and understanding.
4 steps to developing self-compassion.
Step one: practice forgiveness.
Stop blaming yourself for your mistakes. Recognize that you can’t always be perfect and be tolerant of your weaknesses. Become aware of the times when you derive your self-esteem, performance or perfection. Understand that you don’t have to be a certain way to be lovable.
One way to remind yourself that you’re lovable, even when you’re not performing well, is to place a sticky note near your desk or in your wallet with a message reminding you to be gentle and kind to yourself- even.
Step Two: Adopt a growth mindset.
Carol Dweck’s research focuses primarily on the consequences of our state of mind on well-being. She discovered that having a fixed or growth mindset influences our happiness. Do you perceive difficulties as insurmountable barriers or as opportunities to progress? Adopting a growth mindset is more helpful.
Accept challenges rather than avoid them, persist in finding meaning in them, and don’t give up on yourself. When you find yourself criticizing yourself and making negative comparisons to others, try to learn from their successes and strengths instead of seeing them as a threat.
Step Three: Express your gratitude.
Feeling grateful is very powerful. Rather than wishing for what we don’t have, it is stronger to appreciate what we have now. You can choose to write a gratitude journal or take gratitude walks. By focusing on our blessings, we call on a softer inner voice and we move away from our flaws and into the world, with all its beauty.
Fourth step: determine the right level of generosity.
Three different styles of reciprocity have been identified: giving, taking and granting. Donors are the most generous individuals, and this generosity is a tremendous testimony of compassion. However, donors can be both the most successful and the least successful, as they may fall into a pattern of selfless giving that ignores their own needs.
For generosity to work in favor of your well-being, it cannot be disinterested. Also, have fun being generous. Watch the difference you make and remember to reciprocate.