Now that we're wrapping up the year (and decade!), it's time to start looking forward with kindness.
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 your quest for self improvement. Start the new year strong with these ten simple ways to build yourself up with self-kindness.
We 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.
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.
There 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.
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.
Above 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:
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.
One significant way to be kinder to yourself in 2021 is by working on your self-compassion. Often, we talk about compassion in terms of how we treat others, but it's an essential practice to cultivate for yourself. Instead of tearing yourself apart, you want to build yourself back up. We all make mistakes, but self-compassion is about giving yourself a break while you continue to work on your areas to improve. Instead of being your harshest critic, use these five tips to become your best support system.
Self-doubt is a powerful destructive thing that can prevent us from doing our best. It would be best if you believe in your abilities⁴ to leap into anything you want to accomplish. One study⁵ found that those who believe they can learn from their mistakes are more likely to do so. It means that having some self-belief can help you improve.
Believing in yourself requires a couple of components, confidence and self-worth. You must recognize that only YOU can drive your success. The first step for believing in yourself is to recognize how powerful the act of self-belief is and to make the decision to eradicate your limiting beliefs. Set up your environment for inspiration by reading and watching information that promotes your self-belief.
One of the most considerable barriers to self-compassion and self-belief is holding onto past mistakes. When we hold onto the past, we will struggle to adapt and move forward. According to Dr. Fred Luskin's book Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, lack of self-forgiveness leads to higher stress levels and worse well-being.
Fortunately, we can improve our ability to forgive ourselves. We must recognize that mistakes are a learning opportunity and a natural part of humanity. While looking to improve is great, the goal should not be perfectionism. It takes time and effort to learn a new skill, but striving to be perfect is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, it would help if you established realistic expectations and reasonably define success.
It's an incredible feeling when someone else gives us recognition for what we've done. We all want our efforts to be recognized and prove our recognition. Another way to cultivate self-compassion is to give yourself recognition. Instead of brushing past your accomplishments and efforts, take a second to recognize yourself. The purest self-recognition will not need outside confirmation, but you can also recognize yourself by sharing your accomplishments with others. Give yourself a shoutout and explain why you are so proud of yourself; it will go a long way!
We all know the value and importance of respecting others, but we often forget about the self-respect we must also show. Think about how you respond to someone else that makes a mistake or is looking for help. Would you ever consider it respectful to shame them or call them names? No! You would use respectful language and demonstrate that you value the person. This is precisely what you must do for yourself.
Give yourself the same respect you give other people. Instead of surrounding yourself with negative energy and discouragement, use respectful language when speaking to yourself. Foster the relationship you have with yourself and follow through on your promises. Be mindful of your emotions, seeking to examine your actions from a fair lens. Remind yourself of your strengths and worth, just like you would do for a friend. Treat yourself with the utmost respect and foster a loving relationship with yourself.
When all of the demands of life build-up, it's easy to seek comfort in others. While it's beneficial to have strong social support, you must also know how to soothe yourself. You can take control of your emotions and implement powerful self-soothing techniques to manage stress. The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People lists these top strategies for self-soothing:
Cultivating self-compassion is a process that will help you be kinder to yourself in the New Year. Use the tips above to increase your self-compassion and ultimately enjoy greater well-being.
(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
(4) Association for Psychological Science (October 2011) How to Learn by Believing In Yourself
(5) Association for Psychological Science (September 2011) How Your Brain Reacts To Mistakes Depends On Your Mindset