Throughout last year, I wrote a five-part series about self-compassion.
Last December, I was honored to be interviewed by Jackie Pilossoph of Tribune media and featured in her New Year’s column.
You can read her great article below…
“The New Year’s resolution you’ve been waiting for”
By: Jackie Pilossoph
December 19, 2018
“I’m losing 10 pounds in 2019.” “I will be at the gym five days a week starting January 1st.” “This is the year I’m going to save more money.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before, and actually, I’ve made all of those New Year’s resolutions countless times in the past.
While these are all great goals and steps to improving your life, there’s one New Year’s resolution that trumps them all. It’s not about anything you think you should be doing, but rather about embracing and loving the person you are — as is. I’m talking about making self-compassion your New Year’s resolution for 2019.
What is self-compassion? I sat down with Sheila Devi, a Chicago-based certified professional coach who has written several articles on the subject. Devi, who specializes in career and executive coaching, described self-compassion as “being as kind and understanding to oneself as you would to your best friend.”
“There is a culture that has been created about working hard and comparing ourselves to others and second-guessing ourselves,” said Devi, who has been in practice for three and a half years. “As a result, most of us go through our days doing something or saying something and then minutes or hours later end up thinking back on the situation, replaying it and then thinking about what we should have said or done differently. There is nothing productive about looking back and beating ourselves up about it.”
Here are three components of self-compassion, according to Devi:
1. Brutal thoughts counteract self-care. Everyone talks about the importance of self-care; making time for yourself. Examples include doing a yoga class, taking a long walk, going to the gym, getting a massage, having a manicure or pedicure, reading a book with a cup of tea and a piece of cake, or going out for dinner with a group of friends. But, self-care doesn’t mean anything if your thoughts are invading its purpose. In other words, if you are you are on that massage table and all you are thinking about is what you said that you wish you hadn’t in a meeting yesterday, then what’s the point of the massage? If you are eating a piece of cake and at the same time thinking, “I shouldn’t be eating this because I’m fat,” then you are counteracting the joy of having the cake. Self-care plus good thoughts equal self-compassion.
2. Acknowledge and validate yourself. A lot of times we discount or make ourselves feel badly about what we are thinking or feeling. For example, let’s say you interviewed for a job and you didn’t get it. Now you feel sad or maybe disappointed or angry. If you don’t practice self-compassion, you might feel guilty for having those feelings. You might feel like you don’t deserve to be disappointed because you otherwise have a great life — not like your neighbor who was just diagnosed with cancer. Or, because you went to Harvard, you aren’t allowed to be sad. But if you practice self-compassion — if you allow yourself to have the feeling, you will move through that feeling and it will pass more quickly. By the way, it’s wonderful to have gratitude — appreciating that you have a good life and that you are in good health, but it’s important to acknowledge and validate your feelings first.
3. Be nicer in the way you talk to yourself. Words are powerful. We all have thousands of words we can choose from, and we believe the words we speak, whether or not we even realize it. So, if you say to yourself, “I’m such an idiot,” and then you think, “Well, I’m not really an idiot,” there is some element that you feel that way. So, pay attention to the conversation you are having with yourself. When you are eating that third cookie at a holiday party, don’t say, “I’m such a pig.” Instead, think “I’m enjoying this and I’m a beautiful and healthy woman.”
Devi said people are often quick to dismiss self-compassion because they think it will make them softer or less able to succeed in their tough life or work scenarios. She said the result of practicing self-compassion is the opposite; that it makes a person more resilient.
“There is a mentality that being hard on ourselves will make us more successful, and that is definitely not true,” Devi said. “If a situation is hard, and then you beat yourself up, that situation can become unbearable. But, if a situation is hard, and the person has compassion for themselves, they are more likely to walk back into that tough board room and keep trying to solve the problem.”
Self-compassion takes a lot of practice, according to Devi. But what happens over time when you practice self-compassion? Wonderful results!
“The conversation is gone, so your brain will be a quieter place in the absence of your beating yourself up,” Devi said. “As a result, you become more present.”
Another benefit: authenticity. Devi said when you understand that your feelings are valid, you are more likely to share those feelings and as a result have deeper, more honest relationships and better friendships.
Lastly, self-compassion leads to the courage to take risks at work and in life.
“You’re more able to do bigger and braver work because you are able to put yourself repeatedly into challenging situations,” said Devi. “Your sense of self-worth isn’t on the line when you do that.”
See any reason not to make self-compassion your New Year’s resolution? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and said, “I love you?” This just might be the perfect time.
I wish you a happy, healthy 2019, with lots of love, especially from yourself!
• Jackie Pilossoph is a freelance columnist for Chicago Tribune Media Group. She is also the creator of her divorce support website, Divorced Girl Smiling. Pilossoph lives in Chicago with her two children.