Our favourite motivation guru questions whether self-compassion is the key to happiness
Every year when December arrives there is talk of goals and dreams. I see it in my coaching practice and among my friends – the year is coming to an end and it makes everyone reflect back over the past 12 months. However, instead of celebrating everything that has gone right, many want to talk about the things that haven’t happened yet. They are hard on themselves and words like ‘not feeling enough’ and ‘inadequacy’ are common. It’s so easy to get stuck on negative words – the ‘shoulds’, ‘failures’ and ‘not having done enough’ – but it takes a little more work to focus on the kindness and compassion when speaking to ourselves.
Fortunately, being compassionate towards yourself isn’t only possible, it’s vital for a positive mindset. A bank of research shows how much more beneficial it is to be compassionate to oneself than to put oneself down. In fact, if you delve into the data about practising self-compassion, you might be staggered – research shows that we can affect the care circuit in our brains, which is connected to emotions and creating our own happiness and wellbeing. Practising self-compassion daily can reduce emotional distress, including anxiety and depression.
So, if you want to skip into the new year and work towards your goals and visions for 2019, take a moment to acknowledge all of the things you did do right this year. Have faith that, as you learn to be more compassionate towards yourself, you may achieve more than just your dreams – you can achieve a content heart and the chance to feel happier as well!
Let’s kick-start this self-compassion practice together. This is a method that I turn to again and again whenever I feel overwhelmed, and I always find it comforts me. It allows me to immediately switch from self-blame to a place of comfort, helping to change my thoughts and boost my mood. Perhaps you have a specific situation on your mind for which you are being far too hard on yourself, and maybe you’d like to practise self-compassion. If so, take a moment to do the following.
1. Sit somewhere comfortable – it can feel really comforting to put your hands over your heart for this exercise.
2. Take a few deep breaths, in and out, to fully tune into your breath.
3. Start repeating kind sentences to yourself – create your own phrases that feel and sound supportive to you. You can use words like ‘may I be happy, may I be safe, may I be loved, may I be well’.
4. Spend five minutes repeating those words. It literally feels like a big warm cuddle as you say these things to yourself.
The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Christine Carter
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, this book can help you to stay on track. I love the way it’s so practical – no matter how ‘sorted’ your life is, you will take a few useful things away after reading this title. Let’s start with multitasking, as the author states ‘unless you’re a professional juggler, a clown or performance artist… multitasking is nothing to brag about’. Yes, the author has a sense of humour, too! Christine continues to say that, when we multitask, we are actually wasting more energy and time than if we were doing single tasks and focusing fully. Oh, how I can relate to this! The book is based on great research and filled with fabulous practical advice, from how to get the best out of your mornings to how to make decisions and be a better being human being in general. Reading it and following the suggestions feels as good as having a big tidy up – everything feels aligned and refreshed by the time you put it down.