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5 Signs That Someone Needs Some Self-Compassion

It'll help you feel better, and do better.

Key points

  • The act of self-compassion helps in specific recurring scenarios when one experiences emotional stuckness.
  • Self-compassion can improve situations such as putting off a small task or being worried about offending someone.
  • Self-compassionate actions include acknowledging all of one's emotions and giving oneself kindness for any emotional pain.
Source: fizkes/Shutterstock

Many times people don't recognize, in the moment, when self-compassion would help them.

The beauty of self-compassion is that it helps us both feel better and do better. It can be very helpful for getting past emotional stuckness. Remember to try it in these five situations.

1. You're putting off a task that will take less than 15 minutes.

Sometimes short tasks stir strong emotions for us. Even if the task isn't long and arduous, we put it off. You might spend many more minutes dreading the task, than how long it would actually take to do it.

Try compassionate self-talk to see if it helps you move on from procrastination and get your task done. There are tips at the end of the post for how to do this.

If you have negative expectations about how the task will go, or the task has some uncertainty attached to it, give yourself compassion about that.

2. You're trying to prevent every worry your mind generates.

For anxious people, worries are like a game of whac-a-mole. No matter how much your mind "works" on your worries, they keep popping back up.

You can try the short exercise from this video to identify which worries you have any control over, and which you don't. Then, try self-compassion, as outlined at the end of this post.

3. You're experiencing thought intrusions about mistakes or regrets.

As with worries, the brain sometimes acts like endlessly thinking about mistakes or regrets is going to resolve them, or prevent them from happening in the future.

If you respond to thought intrusions about mistakes and regrets with self-compassion rather than rumination, it's more likely you will actually take practical steps to avoid repeating similar mistakes.

4. You're worried you've angered or offended someone, or that they think you're dumb.

None of us can control other people's reactions. Fear of irritating someone can lead to problems like unclear communication or delays on projects; for example, if you're overthinking whether to follow up on an unanswered email.

Here's what will happen when you give yourself compassion about your fears about what others are thinking and feeling about you. It will become easier to:

  • Take appropriate self-responsibility
  • Let go of what you can't control
  • See when you've done your best
  • Be more emotionally vulnerable in your relationships (which can help you bond with people, make genuine apologies where necessary, help people understand your thought process, etc.)

5. You've got a goal, but you're not taking the steps to achieve it.

We're not superhuman. It's easy to think you "should" be able to put aside time and energy daily to devote to particular goals and dreams. In reality, that can be harder. Habits can help but there's a limit on how many good habits we can keep up. Give yourself compassion when you feel like you're not doing enough and are frustrated with yourself.

Simple Self-Compassion Steps

  1. Acknowledge all the emotions you're feeling, using specific emotion words like anxious, uncertain, frustrated, or embarrassed.
  2. Recognize the universality of struggle, mistakes, and difficult emotions, as applicable. Struggle is part of life.
  3. Give yourself kindness for the emotional pain you're feeling. These 13 self-compassionate phrases can help.
  4. Identify a small next step and do it. What's the best thing you can do now, given the reality of the situation, and regardless of what's gone before?

LinkedIn image: ViDI Studio/Shutterstock. Facebook image: fizkes/Shutterstock