Have you ever noticed the big personality in little dogs? The nerve and confidence of a Chihuahua or Yorkshire? I envy little pups who face down dogs 5x their size. We, humans, can have less bite (pun intended)! What separates us from our furry friends is that we are self-aware. We think about ourselves, we talk to ourselves – we are in a relationship with ourselves. How we relate to ourselves greatly impacts how we experience stress, cope with life, and bounce back when hard things happen. And just like we need to trust our friends, we need to trust ourselves.
A growing body of research has found that self-compassion helps foster self-trust. Specifically, self-compassion:
- Builds resilience in times of high stress
- Helps people recover more quickly from trauma or unexpected life events
- Helps people cope with failure or embarrassment
For some, the very term “self-compassion” may sound selfish or self-consumed. It's not! It’s the foundation from which other healthy relationships are nurtured. When we appreciate individual strengths and accept where we may need to grow, we're able to build resilience and adapt to stress. Researchers found that lower levels of self-compassion show up as:
Does this sound familiar?
Self-compassion can be built by learning to redirect negative self-talk and constant worry.
Negative Self Talk
We are hardwired to compare ourselves to others and do it automatically. However, leaning too often or too hard into negative self-talk can become a habit and create chronic stress. Notice how you talk to yourself when you make an error. Do you:
- Berate yourself?
- Talk to yourself in a demeaning or disrespectful way?
- Verbally beat yourself up?
We cannot turn off the mental chatter but we can interject with more honest and constructive language to check for accuracy and balance with compassion. When you become aware of negative self-talk, try restating your internal voice out loud as if speaking to a friend who made a similar mistake. This practice can balance negative thoughts with self-kindness.
Worrying can become a habit. We may think of it as the productive reflex of a loving parent, partner, friend, or sibling. However, in Worry: A Waste of Time and Energy, Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. explains that needless worry crushes our spirit and eats at our valuable time when it falls into one of the following categories:
- Concern about something that does not actually exist
- Concern about something real but out of our control
- Worrying to feel as though we are being productive
If you tend to worry constantly, you can contain your worrying to 30 minutes each day by using a strategy from Cognitive Behavior Therapy called Worry Postponement. You’ll see progress in about two weeks according to this and many other studies. To try out the technique, follow three easy steps:
- Choose a particular time and place to worry for 30 minutes. This should be the same each day (e.g. 6 pm, living room, 30 minutes).
- When you begin to worry during other times of the day, postpone it to the worry period. Write down your topic of worry if needed.
- Come back to your worries at the designated time. Toss the worries that no longer deserve your attention (most of them). Focus on the ones that stick.
Additional ways to build self-compassion and stress resilience can be found in your self-care routine. Self-care can be found in the sparks of joy you experience when you:
- Eat nutrient-dense foods
- Indulge in your favorite movement/exercise
- Improve sleep hygiene
- Address tobacco addiction
- Spend time in nature
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Seek professional support
We are social creatures and truly need one another to survive and thrive. A healthy relationship with oneself will positively affect other connections, the ability to address stress with a Big Dog attitude and build coping strategies. Like other relationships, your relationship with yourself is all about trust. The more you develop self-compassion, the more you trust yourself to make good decisions. If you’d like to spring into healthier coping strategies, better self-care, and stronger relationship foundations, consider speaking to your Pivot Coach.
Holly Dunn, BS, NBC-HWC, NCTTP