Self-compassion is not something everyone gets to experience healthy examples of growing up. You may have never been taught about it at all. You may be able to have all the compassion in the world for friends and family, but when it comes to yourself, you’re your own worst enemy. Lack of self-compassion can lead to tendencies of beating yourself up, focusing on the negatives, and being stagnant instead of focusing on growth.
The Importance of Self-Compassion
On a day-to-day basis, it is incredibly important to be kind and understanding with yourself, and it’s even more crucial during the process of treatment. Each day, you are presented with hundreds of choices, and there is no possible way to make the right one every time. Treatment is the beginning of the recovery process for many; there is no reason to set expectations of perfection for yourself. This journey is nowhere near linear, and the more accepting and forgiving you are with yourself, the smoother the journey will go.
If you have no idea where to start with practices of self-compassion in your daily life and throughout treatment, you are not alone. Seeking the resources to help yourself is the first step. Moving forward, practicing self-compassion and incorporating it into your life will help you succeed in life and recovery.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is not that much different than being compassionate toward others. It means learning to shift that same energy and sense of understanding onto yourself. You offer kindness, love, and support to others when they are suffering, and you can do that same thing for yourself. Rather than putting yourself down and beating yourself up when you feel that you have failed, you should say to yourself, “Things are really difficult right now. How can I comfort and support myself best?”
3 Elements of Self-Compassion
There are three elements of self-compassion:
#1. Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgement
You must be understanding and warm with yourself when you suffer, fail, or don’t feel like enough. Self-criticism will only cause you to focus on the negative aspects of your actions rather than moving forward and exploring how you can do better. Imperfection is inevitable – instead of being angry with yourself, be gentle and accept this reality. Failing to accept it will often cause stress, frustration, anger, and feelings of inadequacy. Instead, you want to promote sympathy and kindness by accepting this truth. As a result, you will experience greater emotional equanimity.
#2. Common Humanity vs. Elevation
Suffering, vulnerability, imperfection, and inadequacy are a part of everyone’s human experience, and there is no way around it. You will never be able to have or do things exactly the way you want to 100% of the time, and it is crucial to understand and accept that this is the case for everyone and not just yourself. Everyone shares imperfections.
#3. Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification
It is important to practice self-compassion while also being sure not to suppress negative emotions. When you observe your thoughts and feelings with clarity and awareness, you practice mindfulness. In a state of mindfulness, you can practice non-judgment and observe your feelings as they are without trying to ignore them.
Ways to Practice Self-Compassion in Recovery
The best way to be compassionate toward yourself is to ask yourself, “What would I say to my best friend?” Think about if a friend came to you and told you they didn’t attend their regular support group meeting for one week. You wouldn’t get upset and tell them they’ve lost all their progress. Whenever you feel that you have taken a “step back” in your recovery journey, think about how you would respond to someone you love and then do that for yourself. Focus on where you are in your recovery and move forward; there is no need to focus on the past.
Practicing affirmations daily can help you improve your relationship with yourself and allow you to treat yourself more like you would a dear friend. Some affirmations you can practice saying to yourself include:
- “I accept myself fully, the best and worst parts.”
- “My mistakes, failures, struggles, and setbacks prove to me that I am growing.”
- “I forgive myself and accept all of my flaws because I am not perfect, nor is anybody else.”
- “I deserve compassion, love, and empathy from myself, always.”
- “Every day is a new opportunity, and I will not allow self-doubt to hold me back from my future.”
- “I release myself with forgiveness and move forward with self-love and acceptance.”
- “Changing will never be simple, but it will be easier if I am not so hard on myself.”
Acknowledge your mistakes, accept them, and then work on letting them go. Remember, you are where you need to be, you are taking your recovery seriously, and mistakes do not define your journey. Focus on self-growth and how every failure is a part of the process in order to build you into a stronger and more resilient human being. Give yourself permission to experience any negative emotions you may be feeling, and then allow yourself to move on.
During your treatment process, it is crucial to be a part of a community that emphasizes compassion toward yourself and others. You will never be made to feel like your failures define who you are at 449 Recovery, as we understand that there will be ups and downs in this journey. You are human and there is always potential to mess up, but that does not mean you are restarting. Instead, you will be encouraged to accept what happened, understand why it did, and handle it from a place of love for yourself. You have not unlearned anything and you are facing a disease that you are actively working on addressing. At 449 Recovery, compassion toward yourself and others is everything. For more information or to seek help for you or a loved one struggling with addiction, call 449 Recovery today at (949) 435-7449.