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The Gift of Self-Compassion

Today is Valentine's Day. A day in which we remember those we love and reach out to let them know how important they are to us. We treat those we love with compassion and kindness.

What do you know about self-compassion? Does the phrase make you a bit uncomfortable...that "self" word may sound "self-ish" to some of us. Or most of us.

But self-compassion is not about being self-focused or self-centered. It is not about self-pity or being self-complacent.

During this month in which we celebrate love, it is so important to talk about the gift of self-compassion…a gift of love which we can give to ourselves.

The practice of self-compassion is so simple…yet so difficult, as most of us are so very hard on ourselves. We make a mistake, or perhaps stumble and fall, and we get mad at ourselves… we wonder why we are so weak… and we criticize and hurl insults at ourselves!

Did you know that the practice of self-compassion is scientifically linked to increased emotional and physical well-being? It's true. Kristen Neff, PhD, the leading researcher in the field of self-compassion, reports that people who practice self-compassion tend to have more positive outlooks on life and are remarkably resilient when faced with the struggles and challenges that life brings.

Self-compassion is a practice. Begin by noticing the voice of your inner critic…what is this voice saying to you? Awareness is the first step toward change, after all. When you make a mistake or find yourself struggling with anger, sadness, loneliness, or any other feeling for that matter, just allow that feeling to be present without judgment, and turn towards it with gentleness and acceptance. Remember, you are human and imperfect…and you will make mistakes. But you are not alone…we are all in this amazing and difficult and miraculous journey together!

So, during this month of Valentine’s Day, remember to take the time to be self-compassionate. Treat yourself with kindness, as you would your closest friend. Be patient and loving towards yourself. Surround yourself with beauty and positive people. Make time for those things which nourish your mind, body, and soul. As you read these words, you might be thinking, but what if I don’t deserve self-compassion? What if I don’t feel worthy or loveable or deserving of kindness?

Self-compassion is so important precisely because we don’t feel worthy, or deserving, or loveable. Start practicing anyway. There is no better time to start.

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