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Creating Resilient Cultures in Healthcare

3 Steps to Self-Compassion

Hands holding heart to practice self-compassion

Nothing triggers my lack of self-compassion faster than having to watch myself on video from a presentation.  With my critical eye, I seem to only focus on what is wrong with how I look, sound, move, and what I say!  This offers me a great opportunity to learn and grow by practicing self-compassion.

Self-compassion is treating ourselves with loving kindness to alleviate our own suffering (struggle) and is made up of three elements: presence (mindfulness), connection (common humanity), and loving ourselves (self-kindness).  It’s such a powerful practice because it changes our perspective, shifts our focus and helps us learn and grow, in other words, be more resilient.  Here are 3 steps to practice:

  1. Be Mindful
    Slowing down to be in the present moment allows us to be aware of our suffering or struggle so we can do something about it.  Avoiding the feelings that invoke our struggle does not allow us to be aware of it, process it, and dissipate it so we can move on.

    Viewing ourselves on video or even in photographs is so challenging because we usually don’t look or sound the way we think we do and it gives our inner critic the opportunity to focus on all that is wrong.

  2. Remember Common Humanity
    Feeling connected to others helps us remember we are not the only one who struggles.  Even highly successful actors like Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, and Angelina Jolie don’t watch their own movies and I have a friend who never viewed her wedding ceremony which she paid to have recorded.

    It is validating to know we are not the only ones who struggle with seeing ourselves with a critical eye, or not at all.  

  3. Practice Self-Kindness
    Being loving to ourselves when we are struggling with soothing and comforting is more beneficial than berating and punishing.  When we respond to ourselves with loving kindness, we can work through our struggle and respond to others in the same way.

    Ask yourself, what do I need right now to help me with this struggle?  Take a walk, ask for help, sit with it and feel, or write about it, before I can move on.

When we can become present to our struggle, remember that everyone struggles, and treat ourselves like we would a good friend, we are practicing self-compassion.  Even if you never get to watch yourself on video, this practice is very helpful when we make a poor choice, things take longer than expected, or we forget a birthday, all acts of our human-ness.  Like all resilience skills, self-compassion is an ongoing practice, so please be compassionate with your self-compassion!

6 Comments

  1. Kim Wolinski on February 6, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Lovely, Diane. Thanks!

    • Diane Sieg on February 7, 2019 at 10:39 pm

      Thanks Kim!

  2. K. McB. on February 7, 2019 at 5:12 am

    Thanks, I needed this reminder.

    • Diane Sieg on February 7, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      Hi Karrie!
      I think all of us over-achieving women need this reminder! Thanks for writing.

  3. Akash on February 17, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Great post thanks for sharing
    Staying mindful at the moment is really powerful
    Actually I have a ritual, every evening I take a walk around the block alone without phone and review my day it really helped me.

    • Diane Sieg on February 17, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Akash,
      Rituals are great and I love the reflection you have every evening. Thanks for writing.

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