Lust for Life: The power of self-compassion
Cambridge-based life coach and mentor Hayley Scott Summers helps women to step out of their comfort zone and cultivate confidence. In her launch column, she discusses the empowering art of self-compassion
Have you ever wondered why, as women, we so often have an abundance of compassion for others, and yet seemingly struggle to extend those same levels of love and understanding to ourselves?
All too often where self-compassion should take centre stage, the main attraction somehow becomes self-doubt, ‘mum guilt’, or a mean inner critic with Miss Trunchbull vibes (sadly, without the chocolate cake).
With International Women’s Day happening this month, and a culture that outwardly encourages the empowerment of women now more than ever, what does it actually mean to be ‘empowered’ as a woman, how does self-compassion play a role in it - and how do we get some of it?!
Motivational quotes on social media might provide a short-term dose of inspiration when it comes to feeling empowered but let’s be honest, cultivating a true, lasting sense of empowerment requires courage and commitment, along with some potentially big shifts in your mindset.
This is where I believe self-compassion comes in to work its magic. So, if you’re wondering exactly how to develop this elusive sense of self-compassion, then here’s a few tangible starting points to get you going. . .
1. Ditch the Inner Critic and the Judgement
Simply put, words are powerful and how you talk to yourself matters. Is your internal dialog supportive? Kind? Encouraging? If such concepts have you laughing or even feeling morose, then it’s definitely time to readdress how you talk to yourself. The next time you catch yourself saying something disparaging, cutting or judgemental to yourself, take a moment to consider how you would feel overhearing these exact same words directed towards someone you love, and then make a concerted effort to correct yourself, with compassion. The more you do this, the more natural it feels to be your own supporter, and not your meanest critic.
2. It’s You Vs You
Comparing yourself to others is a pretty fast way to disempower yourself and knock your confidence in the process. Give yourself some grace, and save yourself the time!
Peoples’ lives involve a myriad of experiences, resources and environments. Which is why it’s so important to avoid falling into a comparison trap. Forget what ‘everybody else’ appears to have or be doing. The best comparison you can draw is against the person you were yesterday.
Feel free to gather inspiration from others, see their success and happiness as proof of what is available to you. But ultimately, keep the focus on your own journey. And whilst we’re here, don’t forget to reflect and appreciate how far you’ve already come!
3. Love Yourself As You Are
Not once you’ve ‘lost the weight’. Not once you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself. Not once you tick all the boxes to meet somebody else’s standards. Love yourself right now, in this moment, exactly as you are. In a world that sends the message ‘You’ll be happy once you have X’, one of the most empowering and liberating moves a woman can make, is to claim her happiness for herself, treating herself with love and compassion in the process.
When you work towards the things you want in life, with self-compassion and self-love at the core, you make the journey that bit sweeter and the results you yield will have come from a positive place of love. It also means that you won’t be continually seeking the next thing to bring you that approval. Because you already approve of you and achieving those goals was never about validation. Cultivating self-compassion isn’t just another wishy-washy self-help suggestion. It might just be the most empowering tool missing from your day-to-day life. The good news is that you can access it at anytime, anywhere and it’s completely free. And just like developing any new skill, the more you do it the easier and the more second nature it becomes.
Read moreReal Life Stories
More by this authorVelvet Magazine contributor