How To Be Self-Compassionate During Painful Times

Self-compassion refers to the ongoing practice of relating to yourself fairly and kindly. This is especially helpful in times of suffering and stress.

Times of stress can trigger painful memories and deep-rooted coping methods. We often become hard on ourselves due to lots of change, endless unpredictability, and sometimes excessive spare time. We tend to do it more than we realize–the negative self-talk, consuming guilt, and trouble sleeping.

But what if there was a better way to break free? When we accept our seeming flaws, forgive, and show kindness to ourselves, we are practicing self-compassion. Though it is often difficult, you can easily make it a habit that sticks with good practices.

If you ever criticize or judge yourself during painful times, these techniques will help get that weight off your shoulder.

Treat Yourself as You Would Treat a Friend

It can be challenging to be self-compassionate, particularly if you did not receive it early or have been in emotionally abusive relationships.

One good place to start is to think about how you would treat people you care about. Though you cannot always get rid of the pain, validate its presence and offer support to enable you to grow and get through it.

On that note, visualize this person and place them in your heart. Now imagine you are speaking to that person. Reframe what you said to yourself and what you would say to them in a similar situation.

For instance, if a friend discloses that their partner or friend has mistreated them, you will likely encourage or, at times, offer to take them for a walk to offload the emotions.

You do not tell them they are weak, ugly, lack parental skills, or conclude anything because of their blunders. But more often, do not say that to yourself if you fail to attain your goals or suffer painful trauma.

Self-compassion allows you to acknowledge your flaws and prevent them from defining who you are. It might even help you get over your experience and lead a more positive and fulfilling life.

Become More Self-Aware

Another way to be self-compassionate is by being more self-aware and tapping into your self-talk. Being mindful of your internal narratives is a positive starting point for fluctuating self-talk. This means slowing down to comprehend how you feel and not running or shunning those emotions.

Mindful activities such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing can help you practice being non-judgmental, which is crucial for self-compassion. Also, apps like the Calm app may come in handy to help you practice mindfulness.

Write a Self-Compassion Script

An easy and effective way to foster self-compassion is through a mindful script. Most individuals and therapists use these to form a mindful self-compassionate program.

The basic idea of mindfulness scripts is to offer a stepwise thought when exploring present moments. They help you be self-compassionate by walking through painful feelings and emotions in a detached and accepting way.

Words of encouragement during painful times can go a long way. Write about your positive qualities and flaws neutrally and not negatively. A substitute strategy is to compose a letter to yourself as if you were writing to a friend. What would you think about them?

This is not an easy undertaking, but it does help you practice being kind to yourself. Turn to your letter or script for a self-compassion boost whenever you feel tense or worried.

Give Yourself a Soothing Touch

During stressful or painful times, you will start to believe there is not much you can do about your emotions.

However, that is not the case. Self-soothing activities can help you suppress your darkest moments and work toward feeling better. They will improve your sleeping patterns, promote thinking clearly, reduce anxiety, and calm your body and mind.

So next time you feel upset or anxious, consider trying these self-soothing techniques.

  • Square breathing
  • Stroking your arm
  • Focusing on a color
  • Playing with what you are wearing
  • Practicing autogenic training
  • Setting up a preventive plan
  • Practice heart breathing
  • Performing repetitive tasks

Let Go of Outside Validation

To be self-compassionate, you need to practice letting go of external validation for your choices or actions and, most importantly, for whom you are.

Many of our undesirable self-judgments stem from how others perceive us. We must, therefore, choose not to relate our happiness and worth to external influences that can easily break us.

When you do something, remind yourself that you made a choice, it is correct, and validate yourself for being you.

Reach Out to Others

Given that we are human beings seeking connection, social support plays a significant role in our well-being and reaffirms that we are not alone even when experiencing pain. Therefore, it is crucial to stay in touch with people even through difficult times.

Despite living in a world of ‘like’ buttons and friend requests, our lives seem more disconnected. The emotional consequence of our modern-day predicament will lead us to turn to therapy for techniques to turn our emotions inside out.

While it is equally gratifying to consider therapy, reaching out to the right friends and family members will enable you to connect and get the proper support. When in need of kindness and compassion, this is an exceptional opportunity to be your most loving self.

Other than being an easier way to show compassion to ourselves, it creates more intimacy and eventually allows us to develop deeper relationships to turn to when we need encouragement or an eloquent boost.

So, Stop Chasing Self-Esteem and Start Developing Self-Compassion

Self-compassion offers similar benefits to high self-esteem, such as less depression, anxiety, and increased happiness. And it is not associated with its downsides such as ego-defensiveness, social comparison, or narcissism.

Therefore, instead of constantly chasing self-esteem, you should encourage self-compassion development. That way, you can embrace yourself with a sense of connectedness, kindness, and emotional balance. You can get the emotional safety required to see yourself clearly and make necessary changes to address your pain and suffering.