Developing and improving self-esteem is a common goal in therapy. Low self-esteem can often be a result of the things we tell ourselves. Often times, we are our own worst critics, listening to our internal negative voice. So, how do you work on being your own best friend? Self-compassion is about treating yourself with respect and kindness. Through self-compassion, clients begin to see their strengths, skills, and attributes rather than their flaws and insecurities. Like with any skill, it is important to practice. Here are some ways to rehearse self-compassion:
Find ways to relax and make sure to fit these moments in your day. Remember: they only need to be moments and not full commitments. Think of taking a relaxing moment as time to “charge” so you can continue on with your day. These moments are not to avoid something, but rather to keep going. A moment of self-soothing could be as simple as using your favorite hand lotion and taking 30 seconds to smell the scent and feel the lotion. You can also take a few minutes to look through some of your favorite photos on your phone or stretch at your desk. Although these are quick ways to take time to take time for yourself, they can last with you for your entire day.
What would you tell a friend? It can often be helpful to remove yourself from the situation and consider what you would tell a friend who is going through the same thing. This helps reduce our knee jerk reaction to personalize and make it “about me.” It opens you up for the chance to be understanding and see other perspectives that can sometimes vanish when we are so internal.
Focusing on gratitude can be another wonderful way to be kind to yourself. Reflect on what you do have and not on what you don’t have. This can be about things that happened during your day or things that you have every day.
I am a big believer in exercise being helpful for mood management and overall wellness. One of my favorite exercises is to practice lifting the corners of your lips up toward your eyes - yes, it’s smiling :) Smiling releases endorphins, our ‘feel good’ hormones, and has been proven to even lower blood pressure. Often we will smile at others when we socially engage and want to be welcoming to others, so why not do this for yourself? Smile to yourself while you sit at your desk or when you’re in the middle of a yoga pose. Smiling is for you, as much as it is for everyone else.