At some point, we’ve all fallen short of our own high standards — and felt the shame and self-doubt that always follows.
Whether it’s something relatively small like being late for an important meeting, missing a deadline or something bigger like disappointing someone you care about, messing up can hurt.
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes and take steps to prevent them from happening in the future. But instead of beating yourself up over them, how about being kind to yourself?
Practicing self-compassion is simply treating yourself with the same respect you’d give to someone else. After all, you wouldn’t refuse to forgive a friend or family member for a mistake that they’ve owned up to, would you?
Self-compassion doesn’t just help make a difficult situation less painful. It can actually improve your odds of being successful in the long run — and even boost your health, according to experts at Stanford University‘s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Here are just a few of the science-backed benefits:
Less stress, anxiety and depression.
Self-criticism increases levels of stress hormones in the body. But being kind to yourself activates soothing, feel-good hormones. That can help you feel calmer and more optimistic overall.
When you remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, you become less afraid of failure. That can make it easier to bounce back from tough situations.
Being less afraid of failure can make you more willing to take risks and try things that are outside of your comfort zone. As a result, you might end up accomplishing more than you expect.
Of course, being nice to yourself can be tough if you’re used to negative self-talk. By taking small steps toward self-compassion every day, you’ll develop a gentler attitude toward yourself over time. Instead of viewing mistakes as failures or setbacks, you may even start to see them as learning opportunities.
Here are a few expert-recommended ways to practice self-kindness.
Write down your self-criticism.
Take a good look at what you’re telling yourself, and think about whether you’d say those things to a friend. If the answer is no, try to put them out of your mind.
Change your self-talk.
When negative thoughts come up, find ways to neutralize them. What would you say to encourage or comfort someone you cared about who was in the same situation? Whatever it is, repeat it to yourself.
Be good to your body.
When you feel good physically, you’ll be more self-compassionate. Make the effort to eat right, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. It makes a difference.
Being kind to yourself is scientifically proven to make a huge difference in your outlook on life and boost your mental and physical health. Get started today, and you may even start to notice the difference right away.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.