One of the most important ways to self-care is to practice self compassion. Sometimes when we make a mistake, or fail to meet our own expectations for ourselves, we fall into the habit of beating ourselves up about it. This affects not only our self-esteem, but also our mental health as a whole and how we are able to show up for ourselves. The ability to truly care for yourself and attend to your needs stems from being able to be gentle and kind with yourself, regardless of the circumstances.
Self-compassion can take many forms. Paying attention to your self-talk is one way to get in touch with your self-compassion. Noticing and reframing thoughts can be a useful tool to navigate being kinder to yourself. Reframing is the process of noticing negative thought patterns, and changing them to support changing one’s mindset. Below are some examples of more compassionate ways to think about yourself through reframing:
“I wasn’t able to finish my assignment because I didn’t work hard enough.” → “I wasn’t able to finish my assignment, but I did the best I could.”
“I hurt someone’s feelings so I must be a bad person.” → “I made a mistake, and I can learn and do better next time.”
“Why did I do that? I should have known better.” → “I did the best with the information I had at the time.”
When you change the way you treat yourself in your mind, you change your outlook on your worth and abilities as a whole. It won’t always feel natural, and you may not even fully believe yourself when you start reframing these thoughts, but over time it will become a habit. Eventually, it will replace the immediate reaction to criticize yourself. The phrase “fake it ‘til you make it” really applies here. Once you learn to be gentle with yourself unconditionally, you take control over your mental health and can process emotions without the pushback from negative self-talk. This change can even make identifying your needs easier by erasing the shame in wanting to take care of yourself. After all, your relationship with yourself is the longest (and arguably the most important) one you will have in your lifetime. All the more reason to take good care of it and practice self-compassion.
Mental Health Counselor Intern