In a world torn apart by racial injustice, gun violence, war and corruption; it could be argued that we lack compassion and self-compassion now more than ever.

The old saying goes “if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”.

Perhaps, the answer to a lot of life’s troubles is to show a bit of self-love.

Compassion is a Medicine We Are Yet to Cultivate

People who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to have greater levels of motivation, feel less lazy or sluggish and are more successful over time. But the most important ingredient of self-care is people actually like themselves, even when they fail.

How can we harvest self-compassion? 

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding self-compassion is that it’s about lying to yourself. Thinking that it’s about drowning out the negative thoughts with positive ones. In a way it is, but it takes more than thinking about how good your hair looked this morning to really comprehend the sweet science of self-compassion.

To truly be self-compassionate, you must act upon thoughts that drive you to positively create a sense of psychological safety.

Doing this sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.

You’ll need to create a space for yourself in which you are able to be confident in taking risks. If your reaction to not getting a new job is to beat yourself up and tell yourself you’re not good enough, this will likely inhibit you from taking further ventures in the future.

Someone who is self-compassionate can embark on risky opportunities without becoming swamped with overwhelming thoughts of failure. In short, self-compassion allows people to chase their dreams.

In a study that examined more than 70,000 people, it became evident that around one-third of the participants described their experiences and emotions as being “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative”. By looking at your life in a black-and-white way, you initiate an internal tug-of-war with yourself by putting yourself down.

How we judge each other

When we fall on hard times, emotions like sadness and disappointment become absorbent. Many of us react to this with judgement – “I shouldn’t be feeling this way. Why am I so negative.” This criticism, you don’t need.

A way to positively counteract negative judgement is to look at the ways in which negative emotions are taking a hold of you, the reasons behind them and what they are teaching you.

Try separating emotions from what they are and think of them as data. Taking this stance allows you to understand valuable information about who you are and what really defines your character. Through self-compassion, you can make a start in acknowledging and coming to terms with each of your feelings no matter how dismal or uplifting.

For instance, you may be feeling frustrated at work. So you ask yourself: ”Why am I frustrated? What are my feelings trying to tell me about my situation?”. By being self-compassionate and learning from your shortcomings, you can actively take yourself out of toxic environments and give you a foothold in striving for something better. The lesson here, be kinder to yourself.

For more wonderful ideas worth sharing, take a look at our TEDx Doncaster blog posts here.