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Self-Compassion in Times of Hardship June 28, 2020

As human beings, self-compassion is one of the most important habits that we need to practice and implement in our daily lives. Oftentimes when we are going through hardship, we struggle to be kind to ourselves. Perhaps we have lost a loved one or lost our job or are going through any other type of emotionally destabilizing scenario, and we have lost control of our emotions, even if we thought we wouldn’t react that way if something awful ever did happen to us. A lot of people have a tendency to feel disappointed in themselves and become highly self-critical because this causes them to believe that perhaps they aren’t as emotionally strong as they thought they were. This thought process does not do anyone any good and can often become a vicious cycle. By doing this, you are simply kicking yourself while you are down. Sometimes the trajectory of our lives takes us down paths we thought we’d never travel and just because you don’t feel completely prepared, doesn’t mean you don’t have the strength within you to overcome all the obstacles that might be put in your way.

When someone close to us is struggling through hardship or a loss, we treat them with patience, love, and kindness simply because we love them and want to see them get through whatever it is that is afflicting them emotionally. We should strive to treat ourselves in this scenario just as we would treat someone that we love very much. For most of us, it’s in our nature to bash ourselves when things aren’t going our way or we feel too overwhelmed to have control over our own emotions. However, we tend to have the exact opposite reaction when someone we love is going through a hard time and we should try to channel that energy into ourselves as well. We can empathize with others easily but it’s not always our first instinct to empathize with ourselves. Sometimes we have to go against our instincts in order to overcome something that is ailing us emotionally.

Given that self-compassion is not always our first instinct in times of hardships, it is something that we should practice daily and there are many practical ways we can do so. First of all, we must remember to take care of our physical health and not let that deteriorate. Our physical health has a big impact on our mental health and vice versa and both need to be given appropriate attention. Second of all, do not fall into a vicious cycle of self-criticism. Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that you feel in a profound way, even if you consider them to be out of control. To straighten out your thoughts, you can journal, talk to a trusted friend or family member, or even seek out professional help. Recognizing your emotions is the first step to overcoming them. Be tolerant and accepting of your own short-comings just as you would do for someone you care about very much. The sooner you accept your own humanness, the quicker you will get out of vicious cycles of self-criticism and you won’t feel the unnecessary stress many of us impose on ourselves to be strong all the time. Lastly, always remember that self-compassion is neither selfish nor a sign of weakness and that we need to be kind to ourselves always because we are as much deserving of love as anyone else in our lives.