Making self-compassion your default

Why is self-care so hard for so many people? I've reflected on this long and hard in recent years through the work I do on resilience with leaders in education. I've realised it's because self-care is rooted in self-compassion and most of us haven't learned how to apply self-compassion in our day to day lives. Yet.

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You know what's good for you and what isn't, right? You know the things to do to keep well and healthy. Even if you don't do it, you do know how to care of yourself.... So why is it so difficult to commit to doing what's good for you and keep yourself flourishing? This is the question that I've been pondering and this is where I've been looking hard to see what trips us up. 

As a member of this site, it's likely you're good at being kind to others and making sure they are looked after. It's likely too, you give those others your time, your energy, your care. When you give out most of the time, at what point do you stop and allow yourself space and time for you? To restore yourself, to recharge, to rest and relax?

If time and space for you seems unrealistic or you feel guilty about having half an hour for yourself, chances are you've been brought up to believe others come first and you come second (or last). Or if it's not other people, then the jobs that are still to be done before you allow yourself some space, the never-ending to-do list for work and home, plus life admin.  

So where does your well-being feature in your to-do list? And how can you ensure it permeates your life? How can you read a book or magazine without feeling selfish? How can you stare out of the window and absorb nature without feeling you're wasting time? How can you relax with a cuppa without feeling guilty you're not multi-tasking?

You have to believe you deserve it.
You have to believe you deserve your self-care, that your well-being counts, that you are worth this. It really matters that you keep well. Because if you are well, life is much easier, you are more effective, relationships are less tense, you feel better. 

And if self-care rests on self-worth, then self-worth balances on self-compassion. 

How would you explain self-compassion to someone? And then, how would you explain how to 'do' self-compassion? Because most people don't know how to explain what self-compassion is or how to put it into practice, my goal for the past four years has been to make self-compassion easier and more accessible to more people. Here's what I have come up with.

A website that makes self-compassion simpler. By routinely applying the following three steps, you will strengthen your self-compassion, gradually increase your self-worth and come to have the self-care you deserve.

Be aware of your feelings
How do you feel in your body? (tired, thirsty, tense)
Identify your emotions (frustrated, worried, sad)

Identify what you need
What do you need to feel a little bit better?

Act on what you need
It can be difficult to know what would make you feel better if, for example, you don't feel good enough, or you just need to vent your feelings, or to calm down. I've provided suggestions to make it easier for you to take action. Taking action isn't always the easy part but there are some suggestions here that give you some very do-able next steps.

You will find the key components of self-compassion (mindfulness, self kindness and common humanity) are built into the practices along with creative self-expression.

If you prompt yourself to do this routinely, my hope is that you will come to live life with self-compassion as your default.

Maureen Bowes

Leadership & Personal Development Coach, People Intelligence

Psychologies Ambassador creating and pioneering self compassion for radical change. ILM Level 7 Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor. Wife, mum, people watcher, café dweller, film lover


Go to the profile of Julie Spencer
almost 3 years ago

Fabulous website. xx

Go to the profile of Ros Brain
almost 3 years ago

Loved the website too, really reassuring. Thank you.