Compassion is showcased as a desirable trait, and rightfully so. It refers to the act of kindness, caring, and love that you can give from a genuine place of empathy and concern to those around you. People widely recognize it as an incredible characteristic to have. Yet, in many cases, the act of turning that compassion inwards is viewed negatively by many!
Self-compassion, or the act of being kind to yourself, can make a few people roll their eyes. They may consider the concept to be one of conceit or selfishness, but it is anything but. In fact, it is logically much stranger to think that you should be kind to everything except for yourself! The reality is that you need your kindness as much as others need it from their external support systems.
Of course, it’s not easy to learn that compassion inwards. Many people struggle with developing that personality trait, and many more believe that it’s not a desirable trait to begin with. But the fact is that you should be doing your best to treat yourself with care and love every day! Are you not convinced? Here are four benefits of being kind to yourself.
1. It Makes You Want To Improve
Being kind to yourself, also known as self-compassion, is a fantastic tool to boost your desire to improve yourself. Growth and self-improvement are tricky things to achieve, and it requires a lot of work even to want to get started. It can seem overwhelming, and it’s often a task filled with hurdles and struggles.
Studies have shown that self-compassion has a positive effect on motivation for improvement when related to working on complex issues. This is a bit of an exciting finding because many people believe that being kind to yourself can also stop you from taking note of your weaknesses.
But being kind to yourself doesn’t mean refusing responsibility or accountability for your behaviors. It simply means wanting the best for yourself and learning to treat yourself with a patient, understanding, and gentle hand. And wouldn’t that naturally include wanting yourself to improve?
On top of that, self-compassion helps you feel more confident in yourself. So addressing your weaknesses is more manageable because your self-esteem doesn’t hinge on bravado and false expertise. Intrinsic motivation to improve thanks to self-compassion can affect many complicated facets of your life, including:
It’s easy to want to turn a blind eye to the mistakes you’ve made, but self-compassion can teach you to address them adequately. After you perform a transgression, you’ll be more motivated to make amends for your actions and work harder to prevent repeated behavior. This is because you will genuinely want to be a better person. So you will feel motivated to change aspects of yourself that you’re unhappy with.
When you’re not kind to yourself, you may feel discouraged when you see people doing well in life, as you may compare yourself to them and feel inadequate. But when you do practice self-compassion, you see other people as a source of inspiration and knowledge. You don’t have self-esteem hang-ups that prevent you from feeling secure among those with more knowledge and experience than you, so you’re eager to learn from them and use their success as motivational points.
· Personal Beliefs
Many people can quickly become stuck in their ways, refusing to grow and change their beliefs as they learn new information. Being kind to yourself motivates you to be the best person that you want to be, so you are more likely to be critical of your behaviors, thoughts, and patterns, allowing you to unpack them and correct them if necessary.
Being kind to yourself can mean that you’re more willing to work to succeed in different areas in your life, as you feel that you deserve to achieve your dreams. From a career perspective, you’ll be more interested in pursuing careers you like and improving your performance at your current job, even after mistakes or reprimands, which can increase your chances of career climb. From an academic perspective, you’ll feel more motivated to continue studying or working on complex subjects in your studies after doing poorly on a test.
However, it is worth noting that being kind to yourself doesn’t force you to become perfect. In fact, it can make you feel more comfortable within the bounds of imperfection. It’s a fascinating dichotomy. You will be more aware of your flaws, but you’ll also learn to accept them.
2. It’s Good For Your Mental Health
It’s fairly logical to see how being kind to yourself could be good for your mental health, but the extent to which this happens is impressive! Here’s how some research explains this phenomenon of positive thinking from self-compassion:
· Better Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of being present and grounded, which allows you to take the world around you, be aware of your feelings, and keep yourself level-headed. It’s a crucial component of general mental wellbeing. Self-compassion and being kind to yourself make you more mindful. You give yourself space and patience to process different emotions and to truly understand your mental state. This allows your mind to work through problems at a healthy rate without avoidance or denial.
· Decreased Anxiety and Depression
Many people struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety hand-in-hand. These disorders can make it hard to be kind to yourself, as they may tell you that you’re not worthy of that kindness. It’s a problematic cycle to be caught in. When your brain says you shouldn’t be self-compassionate and you believe that, you only become meaner to yourself and more susceptible to depression and anxiety as a result. On the flip side, leading with self-compassion will help you moderate these symptoms and prevent them from taking over.
· Better Life Satisfaction
The combination of the aforementioned benefits to mental health allows you to enjoy life more. Your increased levels of positive thinking are fundamental to mental health, allowing you to enjoy life better and feel happy with where you are in the world. When you’re kind to yourself, you’re satisfied with yourself, after all!
Many people believe that being kind to yourself is a little bit of a narcissistic trait or at least one that is very self-focused. That’s why it’s essential to bust down those incorrect notions and reveal that being kind to yourself can be good for your relationships with others!
It seems strange at first but think about it. You need to help yourself before you can help others. If you are not outfitted with kindness to yourself, you can’t extend service to others without hurting yourself in the process. You’ll get burned out and exhausted from putting all that effort into trying to help others when you don’t nourish yourself, to begin with.
Self-compassion can help your relationships by improving your:
Desire to connect to others
4. It Helps Your Thought Processes
The way you think dictates everything about your worldview. It can ultimately make or break your life, how you respond to varying situations, the kind of company you keep, and how well you look after yourself. That’s why it’s so important to forge positive thinking, but that’s easier said than done.
Luckily, being kind to yourself may be the key to improved and healthier ways of thinking, primarily when related to your inner voice and self-perception. Here are some of the research-backed reasons that your thought processes can improve with self-compassion:
· Better Self-Acceptance
Accepting yourself is a difficult thing to have to do, and many people spend decades of their lives working towards self-acceptance. When you’re able to be kind to yourself, you’re more likely to be accepting of your many different facets naturally and will be able to rely on yourself for validation instead of others.
· Less Self-Criticism
Self-criticism is fine in healthy amounts, but there comes the point where it’s more counter-productive than helpful. Knowing when and where to apply that criticism is essential. Many people with negative inner voices also tend to be extreme critics of themselves to an unhelpful and worrying degree. This fosters a more positive inner voice that helps mental health. When you speak to yourself with more kindness, you naturally feel better, and you circumvent factors that could increase guilty, depressed, or anxious emotions.
· Less Self-Judgement
There’s nothing wrong with examining yourself and working on your weaknesses in favor of self-improvement – and our first point covered how motivation to improve is a good thing. But it’s much less favorable for you to constantly judge yourself and feel disapproval or guilt for your behavior. Judgment of yourself will get you nowhere, and it’s more likely to make it difficult for you to examine your issues with accuracy. Speaking kindly to yourself gives you the chance to view your flaws in the same way that you would consider the flaws of a loved one – with patience, understanding, and a desire to support yourself as you grow.
· Less Fear Of Failure
Fear of failure can be stifling in your life. Being so afraid of failing can cause you to get stuck in your comfort zone and keep you from taking wise risks or expanding your horizons. While it’s necessary to consider options carefully, it’s also essential to trust yourself enough to think well of your capabilities to handle challenges and overcome mistakes. Being kind to yourself will empower you with the confidence you need to feel comfortable with failure!
Being kind to yourself is a beautiful thing. It will make you happier, improve your mental health, provide you with motivation to improve, rewire how you think, and brighten your relationships. It is not about selfishness but patience. Instead, it’s about understanding that you are flawed, as all humans are, and loving yourself anyway.
Self-compassion is a trait that can be difficult to develop, but it’s doable! If you need assistance, you can reach out to mental health professionals. Above all else, take it one step at a time. Your journey towards self-compassion will involve you needing to be kind to yourself along the way as you face challenges and stumbling blocks. There’s no time like the present to begin!