Having a strong foundation of self-love or self-compassion is a crucial component to mental health care. It allows you to build your relationship with yourself and create a sense of security during emotional experiences. However, self-love requires much more work than just saying “I love you” to a mirror every day.
Glenn Schiraldi describes the three fundamental components of self-compassion in The Self-Esteem Workbook (2016):
Mindful awareness of emotional experience
Sense of common humanity
Being kind and supportive to self
So, what do each of these parts entail?
1. Mindful awareness of emotional experience
To be mindfully aware of your emotions is to notice feelings and sensations as they arise, and to observe them nonjudgmentally. When we begin to experience distress, self-love invites us to welcome the emotion, however uncomfortable, instead of ignoring it or trying to will it away. By doing this, we create a compassionate connection with ourselves and reinforce the idea that we can hold ourselves during hard times. We can recognize that our difficult emotions, just as much as our positive ones, are an important part of us.
2. Sense of common humanity
Common humanity is the concept that all people will experience hardship, and that it is a natural part of human experience. When we feel down or anxious, we often feel an intense sense of loneliness and isolation. Remembering our common humanity allows us to reframe discomfort and hardship as something that connects us to others. Ground yourself in the knowledge that none of us are alone in our suffering at any given point.
3. Being kind and supportive to yourself
Kindness towards yourself looks like the kindness you would give to a loved one. We are quick to respond to others with curiosity and care when they express their experiences but respond to ourselves with judgment and self-criticism. Instead of meeting your feelings with “I shouldn’t feel this way,” try reacting with the sentiments you would say to a friend, like “I can see where you’re coming from,” or “I am here for you while you try to deal with this.” Creating the security of that unconditionally supportive reaction is essential in practicing self-love.
These are just a few ways to implement self-love into your routine. To expand upon these ideas, try journaling about where you can see these practices coming up for you in your daily life.
By: Mel Signore
Mental Health Counseling Intern
Schiraldi, G. R. (2016). The Self-Esteem Workbook (2nd ed.). New Harbinger.