I often forget to practice what I preach. As a healthcare provider, it is my life’s work to assure that others are healthy – both physically and emotionally. In my last article, I talked about self-compassion, an idea with which I said was completely foreign to me.
Medically speaking, self-compassion affects the hormones oxytocin & cortisol and directly affects how we deal with the stressors in our lives. If we start with being compassionate to ourselves, we can enhance our own emotional well-being and ultimately balance the scales in favor of selflessness over selfishness. Ultimately, we are being selfish if we fail to recognize that we need to be compassionate to ourselves before we can be compassionate to others.
Last week, I went by myself to Tulum, Mexico for a self-compassion getaway. While away, I began to think about my return and how to remain compassionate to myself while still being compassionate to others. What I realized is that the two coexist in perfect harmony.
Tip #1: First & Foremost, Care for Yourself
If you are not present and accounted for with yourself, there is no way you can be so for others. Emotionally & physically, if you are running at peak performance, you will be able to give that much more to everyone else. Think about when you are rundown or sick…You cannot be the best for others when you cannot even be your best self.
Tip #2: Be Patient with Yourself
Impatience breeds stress and anxiety. Things will happen in their own time. This doesn’t mean rest on your laurels. Rather don’t get stressed over the lack of immediacy we have come to expect in the “Everything On-Demand” world.
Tip #3: Be Generous to Yourself
This doesn’t necessarily have financial implications (Though treating yourself to a day at the spa, going on a shopping spree, or indulging yourself and friends is not a bad thing). Be kind to yourself and that will help you be kind to others. Share your time, energy, and expertise with yourself. We are great at a lot of things. Sometimes we forget how great we are as individuals and just how much the things we can do can make a difference in our own lives.
Tip #4: Stop Judging Yourself
Judging yourself is inherently negative. We are harder on ourselves than on anyone else. However, judging ourselves causes us to also judge others. Remember, none of us are perfect and we never will be. Accept that you have flaws and strive to overcome them. If you eat very unhealthy and gain weight, don’t judge yourself because that only makes things worse. Accept that you are at a point where you have made mistakes and make the necessary changes to right them.
Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail If You Want to Succeed
One of the most iconic figures in business today has failed more times than you will ever know. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla crashed and blew up rockets, was ousted from companies that he founded, failed many times while building Tesla into the company it is today. He has made failing an art form and pre-requisite for success.
Tip #6: Embrace How Weird You Really Are
Know that your weaknesses may be your strengths and vice-versa. Know that your quirks just may be just the ingredients that make you awesome. We are not all the same and while you are not perfect for everyone, be confident in the fact that your weirdness makes you perfect for you!
Tip # 7: Understand That You Are in Good Company
At the time of this writing, there are 7,508,124,200 people on the planet. I can say with almost 100% certainty that there is someone else going through the things you are going through, feeling the way you are feeling, experiencing the emotions that are permeating through you at any given time. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Tip # 8: Schedule Your “Me” Time
Whatever your “me” time is, be it reading a book, going for a walk, taking a class, or cooking a meal…Do not miss it. This is your time to unwind and reflect. Think about you and what makes you happy.
Tip # 9: Eat Healthy & Exercise
I know what you are thinking. “Why does she keep telling me to eat healthy?” I know I need to eat healthy and exercise. But as it relates to self-compassion, it will help regulate your hormones, you will feel better about yourself, improve your immune function, and give you increased energy, which, will help you be more compassionate to others.
Tip # 10: Try New Things
Skydiving was always at the bottom of my bucket list, but I know I wanted to try it. Will I do it again? No. But how would I ever understand the experience if I didn’t take the leap? I am not saying that you should go skydive…unless you want to. Go for a photo walk once per week and take photos of things that catch your eye. Or, be a tourist in your own town. I was talking to a friend who grew up in a small town of 2,000 people and he never actually explored the historical significance of this quaint Connecticut town. It made me realize that even though I live here…I have never put on my tourist hat and made it a point to explore San Diego.
I have made it a priority to practice self-compassion by receiving, understanding, and engaging in what I am experiencing at that moment. I listen to and embrace all of me. I urge all of you to do the same. It is only through self-compassion that we can truly be compassionate to others.