I have written this article after being asked to share my thoughts on how self compassion can help with loneliness for the Podcast ‘How To Be…’ by the amazing Suswati Basu.
What self compassion means to me
Self compassion, put simply, is the ability to have self kindness in the face of failure and a realistic mindset where you don’t obsess over the negatives.
It can really support you to deal with difficult situations. So if you have chronic illness in your life, either for you or a loved one self compassion is going to be important to see you through the tough times.
Chronic illness aside, being a self compassionate person can enhance your overall life satisfaction and both your psychological and emotional wellbeing.
How does self compassion link with loneliness
The holiday season is typically a tough time for some and this year with the COVID pandemic and travel and social mixing restricted the issue of loneliness has been brought to the fore. We all recognise how essential social connection is for us as humans.
But, loneliness doesn’t always happen just because you are alone, it’s a feeling and is very personal so everyone’s experience of loneliness will be different. You can feel lonely in a room full of people because your need for social interaction is just not being met.
I know because the most alone I have ever felt in my life was when I was surrounded by my family and friends and a husband that adored me. It was a little after my son had become bed bound with M.E. (Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome). I felt completely disconnected from the world in which I was living. It was like I was going through the motions each day in some kind of outer body experience.
Practicing self compassion can counter some of the feelings of loneliness such as depression, anxiety, inadequacy or low self confidence. On the whole compassionate people generally have better social connections, it can help to reduce stress, lower anxiety and helps you cope with stressful life events. It certainly helped me when my son was ill.
What can you do to increase self compassion?
There are some things that you can start to do today to improve your self compassion. The more you practice the easier it will become as new neural pathways are formed in the brain. It’s like training a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets.
1. The first is to really acknowledge your feelings and think them through – meet those feelings with compassion but don’t let them consume you. Try planning something fun to look forward to, do something positive (no matter how small) to move you away from any negative thoughts or feelings. Allow your feelings but allow fun too.
2. Make sure that you prioritise self-care – this can range from a simple walk outside in nature to sitting and just being with your favourite hot drink and a book, whatever works for you.
3. Mindfulness is really helpful to reconnect you with the present moment – you can often feel disconnected because you are in a place of judgement about yourself or others. Practicing mindfulness will help you feel calm and respond with a greater awareness and perception.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others, your life is your life – it’s your journey no one else’s. Constant comparisons just lead to resentment and deprive you of joy. Your gifts and talents, successes, contributions, and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
5. Interact with friends or family to improve your relationships and if that’s hard, start with the relationship that you have with yourself. When that improves your relationships with others will.
6. Finally and one of the most important things to do is to give yourself the same compassion that you would a really good friend, including how you talk to yourself. Be kind to yourself first.
Join The Community
The Thrive Tribe is a safe place for women with long term, chronic illness or disability (or those who are carers of kids with chronic illness). It is a space to be you, to be honest that you want more than this, to be honest about not knowing how to start. A place where we can lift each other up and support each other. Where you can share your story and where we can inspire each other with our wins. It’s about understanding that life can be tough but also that we can do hard things. About recognising your own unique superpowers! To feel like you belong in a community that has your back.
This month if you join The Thrive Tribe I am offering you the chance to win 1 hour 1:1 private NLP coaching with me, to be taken in January. All you have to do is follow the link below and join the group! See you over there 🙂