Take Care of Yourself: Self-Compassion’s Power to Transform Your Life

If you make a mistake or have a bad week, do you respond and take care of yourself in the same manner in which you would help out your best friend? The kindness we extend to others often lives outside of ourselves, touching the world but failing to reach the heart of our own needs. Our friends, families, and significant others receive our utmost attention when they struggle, but we fail to shower that same loving kindness onto ourselves in moments of vulnerability.

A posture of self-compassion can help us turn a corner during times of need. High levels of compassion correlate with satisfaction and well-being, as well as low rates of depression, according to research published in Mindfulness. Self-compassion is defined by those researchers as “being kind toward oneself when facing difficulties, inadequacies, and failure.” When you live with self-compassion, you fill yourself with warmth, recognize the common humanity between yourself and other individuals, and are mindful of — rather than overidentifying with — feelings of inadequacy.

What would our lives be like if we were to treat ourselves as our own best friend through active self-care? You would feel refreshed and centered, moving through your day with awareness. If it’s been so long that you feel like you don’t know how to renew your positive feelings with some needed attention to yourself, think back to your most comforting childhood moments. Anything that soothes your soul — a cup of hot chocolate, a long walk outside, or a blissful afternoon nap — will honor your needs as a person. Thinking this way and taking some time to step back, especially in moments of hardship, builds empathy and trust, two building blocks for a sound mind, body, and spirit.

Most importantly, if you properly take care of yourself, you’re replenishing the stores of energy that you use to support others. The most meaningful gift we can give to those we love is projecting this kind of self-care. By doing so, we offer our loved ones a foundation on which to rely when it comes to likewise taking care of themselves. Don’t think of self-care as selfish; if you can’t treat yourself compassionately, it’s much more difficult to spread that feeling to others.

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