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Self-Compassion: Be a Good Friend to Yourself

By Olivia Alvizo

We often hear folks describe themselves as compassionate human beings and it is comforting knowing there are truly good people in this world. However, the moment is fleeting because we also encounter those same people can be extremely mean…to themselves. This can take the form of self-criticism, judging our mistakes/wrongdoings, and/or belittling ourselves. Being human is not easy nor is there a guide book on how to be the “perfect” human. What is often forgotten about compassion and all its glory is that self-compassion is also highly vital in our ability to self-acceptance and self-love.

Self-compassion is being a good friend to ourselves, a friend who looks at us when we feel defeated and say “hey, I understand but you’re going to be okay” or “you may have failed but you’re human and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure in life.” If you ever find yourself in the thick of self-criticism and judgement, remind yourself what a good friend would say to you at that moment. Or better yet, what you would say to a loved one in the same predicament. 

If you find yourself feeling angry about a mistake you made, or hurt by someone you loved, or having failed a test, remember to tell yourself: “You’re not a bad person and I understand what you’re going through.” Sounds like a friend, right? Let’s all be better friends to ourselves by increasing our self-compassion, especially in flawed human moments. 

Dr. Kristin Neff, researcher on self-compassion, reported:

“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” – Dr. Kristin Neff

Self-compassion does not justify or excuse unhealthy behaviors that cause any form of harm towards ourselves or others. Instead, it allows a space for you to be a supportive friend to yourself. If compassion is how you describe your values, then also remember to be compassionate to yourself.