We live in very challenging times with multiple global challenges converging on us at once, including the pandemic, threats of terrorism, racial injustice, political uncertainty, economic instability and climate change to name a few. The world can seem daunting and difficult to navigate at times.
Global challenges often lead to stress, which can compound any personal obstacles we may face in our lives. One of these could be around our health as many people are dealing with chronic diseases, which puts them at higher risk of getting COVID 19. Another could be finances as the pandemic has led to global economic decline with many people facing financial challenges. Relationships are also strained because of health and financial concerns.
This is why self compassion is more important than ever. We must love ourselves unconditionally regardless of our past, how others have judged us, the mistakes we may have made and any shortcomings we perceive in ourselves.
The fact is that we are all on a journey and on that journey there are bound to be obstacles and changes in course. Life is anything but a straight path and it is the uncertainty of our life’s journey which should bring excitement and adventure but, for many, it brings fear and anxiety. For these reasons, it is more important than ever before to cultivate self compassion, in order to be able to navigate the challenges and chaos of our current global paradigm.
To this end, here are some tips to cultivating self-compassion:
1) Journal on a regular basis. By journaling we are able to get our thoughts, most of which are negative, and our feelings down on paper and to get them out of our heads and our hearts. This allows us to put them into a greater context of where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going in our lives. Journaling can help us process the negative emotions that we have been suppressing, even from early childhood, that have perpetuated our suffering.
2) Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say ‘I love you.’ This may sound strange at first but if you do this practice on a regular basis, even if you don’t feel it in the beginning, eventually it will become reality.
3) Do something everyday just for yourself. We spend so much time attending to the needs of others such as our family members, our bosses, our work and many others that we tend to neglect ourselves. You must take time daily to do something just for yourself, and nobody else, even if it is as simple as going for a short walk in the park.
4) Perform at least one act of kindness daily. This is important for several reasons. One is that people everywhere are hurting and suffering and need our compassion more than ever. The second is that you can only be kind to others when you are kind to yourself so this will reinforce the importance of practicing self-compassion.
5) Forgive yourself for any wrongdoing that you perceive yourself as having done to anybody else. It is more important to forgive yourself than to seek the forgiveness of others. The fact is that nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes. We should not be judged by our mistakes but only by what we learn from them and how we grow because of them. We can only learn and grow if we forgive ourselves.
6) Spend more time in nature. The fact is that nature is interconnected in a way which has been lost to most of humanity because of how disconnected we have become from nature. By spending more time in nature, you will be witness to its beauty, and embody this interconnectedness of all things. This will, naturally, cultivate your love of nature and your self-compassion.
7) Do not judge others, no matter how wrong you think their actions are. You do not know the unique circumstances and experiences that led the other to carry out their actions. You have not walked in their shoes. Any judgement of others is a judgement of yourself.
8) Contemplate the question of who you truly are. The more you ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’, the closer you will get to discovering your true nature which is beyond body, thought, emotion, story, roles, time and space.
By taking the steps outlined above you will be on the path to cultivating self-compassion, which will ground you in the feelings of joy, serenity, fulfillment and freedom and help you navigate any challenge that this world throws your way.
Dr. Nauman Naeem