Cultivating Self Compassion When Caring For Others

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Today’s workplaces are more demanding than ever. Even if you like your job and are on a career path you have chosen, the amount of focus and responsibility can be daunting, even without other challenging responsibilities at home. Add in the tracking or overseeing of care for a loved one, and it becomes almost impossible to feel like we are doing our best at all of it. That’s when the nagging, critical voice inside our head starts speaking to us.

Often called the “inner critic”, this can be damaging to our self image and self defeating in terms of our productivity. Part of cultivating self compassion is letting yourself know that (1) that voice in your head is not to be believed and (2) you are doing the best that you can. It is a practice we can all use daily. 

Remember, though, that the first step is to recognize that voice! We’re so accustomed to it, that it may take a little practice to pause and notice “Oh there it is, telling me stories about myself again!” Then, try taking a deep breath or two and repeating to yourself or even out loud “I am doing the best I can at this moment”. You may be surprised at the effect this will have on the impact of that omnipresent self-critic.

Our culture creates an environment of being overstretched in our lives, leaving us feeling like we are never “done”. We leave work at the end of the day with unfinished projects and start the next day with a pile of work to get done. When caregiving during non-working hours or tracking details in between the cracks of your work time is part of your day, it can be exhausting. And again, that feeling of never being quite done with anything preys on you and there it goes – that self defeating discouraging tape starts running in your mind. Remember: notice,  pause, breath and be kind to yourself.

There is research that shows how self compassion is related to being able to cope with challenges, lowered stress and anxiety, better self-care, emotional well-being and more fulfilling relationships. If you are able to be compassionate toward yourself, not only will you have more compassion for others, you will be able to face your days when navigating difficult circumstances with energy and without beating yourself up.

Doing your best is all you can do – adding some positive lifestyle choices and maybe a few minutes of breathing exercises or meditation each day could make all the difference in the world – you are worth it!