Candace Brown, registered psychologist
Northern Alberta Psychological Services
This is the final article of a three-part series on self-improvement for low self-worth. The topic for this article is creating compassion for yourself.
Self-compassion is the foundation of self-acceptance. Just as you would be supportive, kind, and gentle with a friend who is having a hard time and needs your help, self-compassion is that kind of caring but turned inward. To be compassionate towards oneself, you are acknowledging the distress that you are in and you want to alleviate it. The discomfort in low self-esteem is your belief that you are unworthy or undeserving of just about anything positive in your life.
Everyone has had times in their life where they failed, had difficulties, and endured suffering. That is how life goes; therefore, you are not alone.
Self-compassion has you meet those challenges with kindness, gentleness, and self-love. It is not about self-pity and giving up; self-compassion requires you to open up space for change. That means that you learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, pick yourself up, become stronger, and accept your flaws. It may be hard to resist the inner critic that wants you to put yourself down, but it is vital that you do resist.
Those people who practice self-compassion suffer less anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
One way to be self-compassionate is to validate your own self-worth. Learn to give yourself credit and approve of yourself. You do not need the approval of others.
Practicing daily affirmations is another way to accept yourself for who you are. Affirmations are positive statements that encourage you to be a better self. For example: I can get through this tough time because I am a strong person; I make mistakes, everybody does and that is okay; Every day is a new day to try again; and so on. There are many positive affirmation apps on the internet that can get you started.
Engaging in mindfulness is another way to practice self-compassion. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment without judgement. It is a way of noticing your environment by focusing on one sensory experience.
For instance, sitting comfortably, what do you hear, see, smell, taste, or touch. Mindfulness helps us understand where we are at with our thoughts and feelings and that awareness tells us what we need to do.
You could also write a letter to yourself as if your best friend was writing it to you. The letter could be about what a great person you are, what you have accomplished, how talented you are, or why that friend appreciates you. Writing a letter from someone else’s perspective can be a good way to train yourself to speak positively about yourself.
Another easy way to develop self-compassion is to be grateful for everything you have (even if it is not much). We can be grateful for the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, for the people in our lives, and for things that make us happy.
We can also be grateful for the chance to improve ourselves. Moreover, be a good friend to yourself.