We all have days when the harshest critic of our choices is ourselves. That’s why we need to model self-compassion for our girls as parents and caregivers. As life balance coach and speaker Renée Trudeau wisely points out in this article, instilling in your children the value of being kind to themselves can help them develop strong self-esteem, lower stress, and heighten resiliency.
Feeling Out of Sorts? Start With Self-Compassion
Ever notice when you’ve moved into a place where you see everything that’s not working, rather than everything that is?
Yesterday I found myself in this space. I paused. Then, I stepped onto my back porch to enjoy a tall glass of self-compassion and drink in the reminder that I’m going through numerous big life transitions right now, and tomorrow is a new day.
One time when I was leading a retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness in the Berkshire Mountains, a dear woman from Amsterdam shared with our women’s group that her three-year-old daughter calls herself “little sweetie.”
The mom remarked, “I often hear her my daughter roaming around the house saying …it’s ok little sweetie, you’re tired, you need a nap …it’s ok, little sweetie, you’re hungry and need some strawberries. Or to her mom, “little sweetie is sad, she needs a hug.”
This mother’s young daughter simply knows no other way than to treat herself with loving-kindness; she hadn’t been taught there was any reason she shouldn’t. (She inspired the rest of us to refer to ourselves as “little sweetie” for the duration of the retreat!)
I wonder what our culture might be like if we taught self-compassion as a sought-after skill to develop and hone–as equally valued as hard work and perseverance. Can you imagine hearing teachers and other influential mentors regularly remind their students and peers, “Be gentle with yourself” …?
How do you begin to cultivate self-compassion?
Here are some ideas that help me:
1. Find and post a picture of yourself between ages 3-5 and see how this perspective shifts your ability to be easy on yourself; you’re still that same little person!
2. Take a 30,000-foot view and find perspective. Sometimes we lose sight of all we’re navigating. We’re all juggling so much: divorces, illnesses, parenting woes, career/life changes, work upheaval–give yourself a break. You have a lot going on and are doing the best you can.
3. Reach out for support: have a heart-to-heart with a dear friend who holds the highest and best for you. A kind conversation can really help us loosen our hold on what’s “right or wrong” and help us see things with softer, gentler eyes.
4. Practice modeling this for your children, friends, and coworkers: if you’re a parent, instilling in your children the value of being kind to themselves can help them develop strong self-esteem, lower stress, and heighten resiliency. Let them hear, “I had a challenging day; I’m doing the best I can.” The same goes for your friends at work.
Often when I’m being hard on myself, I will take a long, slow deep breath, place my hands over the center of my chest and invite in self-compassion. When I can remember to soften and open my heart, it helps me see others in a whole new light. Compassion for others starts with compassion for myself.
Subscribe to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by Renée, and click here to learn about upcoming speaking engagements (including online). Renée is the author of two books on life balance, including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Brevard, NC, and Austin, TX with her husband and is enjoying being a recent empty nester.
Top image by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash
Second image Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash