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January 09, 2020 4 min read

Now that we've wrapped up the previous year (and decade!), it's time to start looking forward. For many, it's time to turn over that new leaf and start a new self-improvement campaign beginning with your New Years' resolutions.

Building a better you requires patience and self-acceptance. You'll experience greater success if you avoid putting yourself down or allow negative feelings to run rampant. Focus on what's great about you and how you want to become even better. Start the new year strong with these five simple ways to build yourself up with self-kindness. 

Take More Time for Yourself

Woman enjoys reading in bedWe all need some time to recharge now and then. Unfortunately, many people view solitude as an inherently negative experience. After all, many of us grew up being taught that alone time in our rooms was a form of punishment.

In reality, spending some time relaxing, doing a solo hobby, or just turning off your phone and enjoying the silence can be incredibly helpful. Contrary to what some people believe, spending quality quiet time by yourself can reduce stress and feelings of depression or sadness. 

Improve Self-Compassion

What is self-compassion? To some, it may seem silly. After all, we're used to compassion being something shared between two people. Yet self-compassion is critical to the peace and harmony not just within ourselves, but among our family and friends, too. 

When you have no compassion for yourself, it means you tear yourself down. You feel nothing you ever do is good enough, and you refuse to forgive yourself for even simple mistakes. Being hard on yourself can lead to bitterness, high-stress levels, and even relationship troubles. 

Self-compassion is the act of reminding yourself that you are a human. You are flawed and imperfect but still deserving of love, even from yourself. You can be your own harshest critic at times, so make sure you're also your own best cheerleader. 

Let Yourself Accept Compliments (even if they're from you!)

Woman patting herselfThere can be an overwhelming urge, particularly among women, to feel like you're not deserving of success. We all downplay our strengths from time to time to be modest, but sometimes such behavior ventures into the territory of imposter syndrome (feeling of inadequate despite evident success)1.

It's important to enjoy success and to appreciate our best qualities. The next time someone pays you a compliment, let it sink in. You deserve to be proud of your accomplishments and skills. Moreover, receiving sincere congratulations has been shown to set off a happy cacophony of positive feelings in the brain2

Complimenting yourself is also very important. To others, your positive traits may seem obvious, but it can be hard to train your brain to see the same qualities in yourself. It's okay to acknowledge you've done something well. It's not vain or selfish to pat yourself on the back now and then. 

Transform Regrets Into Improvement Fuel

We all have regrets. Whether it's a missed opportunity or a failure at work, we've all made mistakes. The key is to respond to failure healthily. Wherever you've made a mistake, there's a learning opportunity to reflect on.  

Such advice can be hard to hear in the wake of something genuinely upsetting, but trying to hide your failures and run from your regrets will only cause you pain in the long run. Suppressed emotions may even start causing you physical pain3

Yet, at the same time, you need to be able to let these feelings go. There's a happy middle ground between ignoring bad feelings and letting them consume you. When the mistake happens, try to give yourself a little distance until you've collected yourself. This mental pause could be days or hours, but you'll know when you're ready. 

Next, give yourself ample time to process how you feel. Work through why you ended up here and then identify at least one way this experience could affect you going forward. Perhaps you've said something too harsh to a loved one. Use the opportunity to research and grow different emotional coping skills, or take this chance to practice your heartfelt apology chops. Your counterpart understands that no one's perfect and will appreciate your taking time to reflect. There's always room to grow. 

Take Care of Yourself

Man relaxingAbove all else, put some effort into caring for yourself. Odds are you spend a lot of time and energy caring for others, be they friends, family, or just acquaintances. Yet you need to take care of yourself, as well.

Self-Compassion can be a tall order, as self-care encompasses everything from your diet to your career. To make things simpler, strive to do one thing for yourself every day, whether that's taking five minutes to meditate or a small step towards that promotion you've been eyeing. Consistent small steps forward lead to big wins in the long run.

For effective self-care, consider the eight dimensions of wellness:

  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Intellectual
  • Physical
  • Environmental
  • Financial
  • Occupational
  • Social

Each of these elements is important to your overall happiness and stability. Remember, life is about balance. All aspects of your wellness are intertwined, which means ignoring one will compromise the others. Make the commitment of taking care of yourself this year, in every way. 

(1) Corkindale G (2008 May) Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
(2) Fetters K A (2017 Feb) Compliments Are Like Mini-Orgasms for Your Brain
(3) Lumley M, Cohen J, Borszcz G, Cano A, Radcliffe A, Porter L, Schubiner H, Keefe F (2011 Jun) Pain and Emotion: A Biopsychosocial Review of Recent Research