Welcome to this week’s In Therapy post.
Last week we spoke about what compassion is and what it might do for us to develop more self compassion as well as compassion for others.
This week I want to leave you with some helpful tips for developing that compassionate life.
How can we start practicing compassion for self and others in our daily lives?
Here are some tips on how you can start and get into the habit of living a compassionate life:
- Develop self-awareness and reflect on your day as it is happening.
- A therapist might be able to help with this, or find a good self-help book on the topic and make it your own.
- At the start of the day you can be thankful for what you’ve got, for waking up and having the job, family, friends, food, home that you have.
- Throughout the day you can think about how something you did for someone might have changed the outlook of their day.
- You could also think of something someone did for you that made you happier.
- At the end of the day you could reflect on what went well and what could have been different in regards to self-compassion, compassion for others, or how others are compassionate towards you.
- Change your thinking
- You don’t have to be perfect
- Others don’t have to be perfect
- We are human, mistakes will happen.
- Be understanding and kind when you and others make mistakes
- Catch yourself being judgemental and critical and try your best to be more forgiving and kind.
- Trying is key here. If you are upset with someone, don’t deny those feelings, but find ways to channel that emotion and work through it as well.
- For more on working through different issues, read my posts on change and others on working through difficult emotions like anger
- Consider the person’s story.
- Maybe they are going through something really difficult and that’s why they said or did that.
- People don’t exist in a vacuum and we might only know a little bit of their story. Giving the benefit of the doubt – without denying our own emotions about it – is compassionate living.
- Change those negative thoughts you have about yourself
- Replace them with kindness, forgiveness, understanding.
- Replace them with more positive ones that you know are true!
- Remember: you are no alone in your suffering.
- Letting others know they are not alone might also help them.
- Us humans have more in common than we have differences.
- We all suffer with sadness, anger, loss, and others throughout our lives.
- We might deal with the in slightly different ways but the feelings are the same.
- Give to charities or work for one
- We talked above about alleviating suffering.
- Giving to charities that help others we can relate to or want to help is a good way of being and showing compassion to others.
- I give to the A21 campaign which deals with human trafficking and rescues women from very dark situations. I am not working directly with these women (I would love to though!) but I am making a difference with what I send every month.
- It doesn’t all have to be about charities – giving can also be about offering someone a helping hand, smiling at someone, buying lunch for a colleague, or just sitting next to someone who seems in need of company.
- Find a therapist to work through this and develop self-compassion and compassion for others.
- Re-evaluate your values
- We talked about at the start about how our upbringing can affect how compassionate we can be. Is it time to think about these again?
- Are the ones you grew up with not helpful to a happy and compassionate life?
- Replace them with ones that match who you really are and how you want to treat yourself and others.
- Tell your inner critic to “shush”
- If we understand our inner critic better, then we can talk to him/her and make them quieter.
- We can use the inner critic to our advantage once we’ve got a handle on him/her. It can become our radar for when we need to re-evaluate our thoughts about ourselves and others.
- Self-awareness and understanding of what we have internalised from our parents, teachers, or come up with ourselves growing up can help find our self-compassion.
- Develop a growth mindset.
- Face your challenges and grow from them.
- Find meaning in what’s happening at any moment in time, especially the hard times.
- Find the right levels of generosity – meet your needs first and then see how much of others’ needs you want to meet and how.
- Keep yourself safe.
- Set clear and healty boundaries.
- Give back but also give back to yourself.
- Have fun doing it.
Some last thoughts…
- Practice forgiveness.
- Express gratitude.
- Practice empathy.
- Practice active listening.
- Agree to disagree.
- Practice acceptance.
- Do kind things to self and others.
- See the whole person not just the present behaviour.
- People are not their behaviours.
- Rely on your support system for compassion, understanding and kindness.
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