The Importance of Self-Compassion

By: Fajr Zahid, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences Well-being Leader

While many of us are able to recognize the importance of being kind and compassionate to others, these concepts may often be forgotten when reflecting on ourselves. It is equally as important, however, to be able to practice and incorporate self-compassion into your own life, especially during difficult and stressful times.

It is natural to find yourself experiencing feelings of self-doubt, self-judgment and self-criticism from time to time. After all, we cannot always be satisfied and fulfilled with ourselves, whether it has to do with the way we behave, think, perform, look, or react to others. Constantly viewing yourself and your life in a harsh and negative light, however, can be detrimental to your well-being in many ways.

By only focusing on and pointing out your perceived flaws, you are in many ways inhibiting yourself from being able to flourish and improve as an individual. As you instill more and more negative views about yourself into your mind, you begin to reinforce the idea that you are incapable of succeeding and overcoming whatever struggles you may be experiencing, whether they are emotional, physical, intellectual, etc. Therefore, it is highly important that you treat yourself with patience, kindness, and compassion when you find yourself trapped in moments of self-doubt and self-criticism. During these times, it is also more important than ever to remind yourself of your strengths, capabilities, and admirable qualities. This will help you develop a more positive outlook on your situation, and motivate you to keep pushing forward, despite any setbacks.

Learning to forgive yourself for things such as not being able to perform a task as well as you wish you had, or not having treated someone as kindly as you feel you could have, for example, also ties directly into the idea of self-compassion. Making mistakes and learning from them is a part of growth; instead of viewing them as irreversible actions, it is more beneficial to view them as lessons that can help us improve.

Self-compassion can be practiced in many ways, and it is important that we try to incorporate these practices into our lives, even when we feel that we are not deserving of it. Remember to always treat yourself with the same kindness, respect, patience, forgiveness and compassion that you feel others deserve, and do not lose sight of all of the positive attributes of yourself, especially during the challenging times in your life 🙂