This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Feel Positive in Tough Times

Power Skill 5

strengthen your relationship with yourself

accept yourself with compassion

All too often, we ignore and criticize ourselves when what we need most is self-compassion. 

Self-compassion involves having an accepting and non-judgmental attitude toward ourselves, no matter what. Part of building resilience is building your ability to care for yourself.

 

Self-Care Basics 

The first step in creating a self-compassionate outlook is taking care of the basics. It may seem small, but doing intentional things to take care of yourself can alter the way you see yourself. 

1.  Start with hygiene. This is where you can make the quickest adjustments and begin to feel feelings of success.

Ensure you brush your teeth each day, for example. Your dentist will be happy but even more happens. You can spend your time cleaning your teeth by thinking of it as a dedicated time where you’re taking care of yourself.

When you take a shower, be mindful, and notice how the shampoo smells, how clean you feel, and how nice the water feels. Being mindful in this way will increase your ability to care for yourself. 

2.  A significant step to building small successes is making your bed each day. This has been widely seen as an effective way to start the day because you get to start off your day with success. Even though this may seem small, the best way to start being successful is by achieving small achievements along the way.

When you awake unmotivated but make your bed anyway, you’re showing a commitment to yourself and your life. That is, resilience in action. 

3.  Pay attention to the food you eat. What we eat affects our brains, so it’s essential to nourish your mind and body with nutritious food. You don’t have to change your whole diet – you can simply add a few vegetables to your dinner or eat fruit throughout the day.

Get to know what your body needs more of and give that to yourself. This is an excellent path to self-care. 

4.  Schedule a time each day, or even once per week, where you tidy up your home. Clean the countertops, put away the dishes, sweep the floors, and do laundry. If you can keep up with short cleaning times, you’ll find that your living space feels lighter and happier.

It’s essential to have the environment you live in to reflect your needs and who you are. 

If you’re having a difficult time, your house may get messy. This clutter will hinder your growth. If it’s hard to get the motivation to clean your home, ask someone in your community to help you get started. Often, having someone there with us when we need to do difficult tasks helps us get the job done, even if they aren’t a huge help.

Just knowing you have that support can make all the difference.

 

Addressing Critical Self-Talk 

How do you talk to yourself? Spend a couple of days noticing what you say. Start by merely observing the phrases you tell yourself.

What do you think when you’ve succeeded at something? Are you proud of yourself? What do you feel when you’ve made a mistake? Do you beat yourself up? 

Some people have critical self-talk regardless of their success. If they gain a success, they think, “I have to be perfect forever,” or “I could have done better.” And when the mistakes happen, that critical talk gets even worse. They might say things like, “I am worthless,” or “I will never get anything right.” 

A common misconception is that critical self-talk is a good motivator.

At times, saying, “I love you” to yourself is seen as something to be embarrassed about. It can even be perceived as arrogant.

However, positive self-talk isn’t conceited. Negative self-talk isn’t a good motivator. If you thrive off critical commentary, try changing your thoughts to self-compassionate ones and see what happens. 

It may appear challenging to change your thoughts. Thankfully, it isn’t too tricky when you commit to changing your thoughts and have the willingness to do so.

After you spend time learning the negative things you say to yourself, balance those things out with positive thoughts about yourself. 

For example, if one of your phrases is, “I will never reach this goal,” you can turn that phrase around by balancing it out. Instead, you can say, “I am a hard worker and capable of reaching all of my goals.”

Having the feeling that you’ll not be able to do something is an excellent opportunity for some self-motivation. If you’re struggling to achieve something, ask for help from someone who can provide encouragement. 

You can give yourself permission to praise yourself. When you’ve had a long day of hard work, you can look in the mirror and say, “Wow, you really worked hard today. Thank you.” Talking to yourself in the mirror may seem strange or uncomfortable. Try saying encouraging things to yourself in the mirror once a day for a continuous period.

You’ll notice that your self-talk gets nicer throughout the rest of your day and you begin being kinder to yourself.

 

Take Time to Care 

It’s crucial to take hold of our thinking when we’re noticing critical self-talk. Thoughts are simply words, they are not facts. You can watch them float by, you can replace them with positive affirmations, and you can ask for help to get over them. 

Taking action to love yourself is just as important as changing the way you talk to yourself. You can do this in small ways. These self-care routines go above the basics and encourage you to get a bit more creative by doing things that will nourish you. 

 

Do these activities to practice self-compassion:

 1. Write a sweet note to yourself. The letter doesn’t have to be extensive but can be if you want. Start with just two or three sentences. Write something encouraging like, “I am glad you exist, and I am proud of the work you do.” You can give yourself the words that will help you heal.

2. Spend an hour outside. Get some fresh air and mindfulness while you spend time at a local park, in the forest, at the beach, or anywhere else outdoors. Nature is a natural healer, so being in the open air can offer a new calmness to your brain.

3. Turn off your phone and pay attention to you. Take a break from social media, emails, and other notifications that take you out of the present moment. By truly immersing yourself in your own time, you’ll build a stronger connection to yourself. If this time feels uncomfortable, use it to say positive things to yourself.

4. Write it out. Keep a journal or notebook for positive, encouraging thoughts about yourself. Write out some critical self-talk phrases and then come up with balancing ideas that work for you. If you prefer, record your thoughts with a voice app.

 5. Take yourself out to dinner. It may feel uncomfortable to go to a restaurant by yourself, but it’s an excellent practice for enjoying the time you spend with yourself. Sometimes spending time alone can feel like loneliness. Go out to eat your favorite meal to treat yourself kindly. 

Take the time to take care of yourself. By strengthening the relationship you have with yourself, you’ll see other parts of your life improving, too. Your contacts with others will be more authentic, you’ll feel more motivated, and mistakes will not feel like total failures. 

These habits will improve resilience by helping you self-motivate when things are difficult. By practicing self-compassion, you’re strengthening yourself to handle everything life throws your way. If you can face difficulty without berating yourself, you’ll stand tall and remain hopeful.