Sometimes Disney movies are spot on with the emotions, questions or thoughts that you or I have felt. This can be said about the story of Mulan, Simba in the Lion King, and of Elsa from the movie Frozen. Each character is on a journey of transformation, one that has included some level of hiding or running away from who they really are. What happens in each of their stories is so beautiful to me. Each comes to a place of realizing who they are and what they have to offer.
In my series on self-esteem and self-confidence, we’ve been exploring what self-confidence looks like and how do you get there. Specifically, in the Blog, I Have Confidence, I explored how your mood, thoughts and appearance can impact your level of confidence. I broke it down even further in, Being a Black Professional Women, as I encouraged you to notice what types of thoughts may be holding you back. One aspect to this conversation that I’ve yet to cover is the practice of self-compassion.
I first heard about self-compassion when listening to a podcast that one of my clients was interested in discussing during session. In this episode, I was introduced to Dr. Kristin Neff; a professor, researcher, and the co-creator of the workbook and program titled, The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook. Per Dr. Neff, “self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with (your) personal failings.”
How Self-Compassion Can Impact Your Self Esteem
When I meet with clients who are struggling with self-confidence, they often reflect feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. This is especially true when they have made a mistake or when they feel that they are not competent. Those thoughts and feelings become consuming and can lead to low mood, stuckness, being overwhelmed, or heaviness. When they feel this way, I often offer compassion to them and also encourage them to show compassion to themselves.
Steps Towards Self-Compassion
So, how do you get there?
Remember that you are a part of humanity. Simply put, no one is perfect. This isn’t to minimize your feelings of sadness and frustration of yourself, but rather to reframe your thoughts. My husband often laughs at me when I recognize my humanness and will jokingly say, “my wife is not a robot.” You my friends, are not robots. You are flesh and blood humans. You will have moments where you are profoundly aware of how you need/want to grow or improve. It is in our striving to be better, which is a part of being human.
Be Mindful. The practice of mindfulness says that you can notice the negative thoughts, emotions or experience without judging them. Mindfulness encourages reminding yourself of where you are presently. Notice your surroundings, and even where in your body you are feeling the emotions. This type of noticing is so that you can respond in a caring way.
Self-Care. You’ve likely heard a lot about self-care. Bubble baths, reading books, eating good food, and talking to friends are a few of my go-to’s. What I’d like to encourage you to consider is that self-care does not have to be this grand act towards yourself. What is true, is that often when you are struggling with heaviness, small acts of kindness towards yourself can go along way. So, if you put lotion on your hands…that is self-care. If you brush your hair, that is self-care.
How to Integrate Self-compassion With Your Faith
Sometimes when the topic of self-compassion comes up, you may feel weary about the attention that is turned towards you to get your needs met. However, a client reminded me of this truth, you are not alone. If faith is an important part of your journey, then knowing that there is a God that cares for you and is fighting for you can be a deeply reassuring motivator for being compassionate towards yourself.
I am deeply invested in seeing you grow in greater compassion towards yourself. When you are able to show compassion and kindness towards yourself, you no longer feel that you need to hide who you are. I’d be honored to walk this journey with you. Call today.
Written by therapist Pamela Larkin
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