Why it matters: When you mess up, do you give yourself a break? Or do you bring yourself down, using harsh language you’d never unleash on a friend? Many of us do the latter-but those who are compassionate with themselves tend to have greater happiness. And luckily, says Kristin Neff, PhD, associate psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and coauthor of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, we all can learn to be gentler to ourselves. “We’ve learned how to be supportive, how to be warm to others,” she points out.
How to practice it: In times of failure or challenge, Neff says, notice the tone you use on yourself, and strive to lead with warmth and kindness-the way you’d calm a loved one. (Instead of “You’re an idiot,” say, “You had a moment of forgetfulness, and that’s OK.”) “Your heart goes out to yourself, which is so key,” Neff says.
Try to remember that your setback or anxiety is a normal part of being human. You can use soothing touch by gently stroking your arm or even holding your own hand. Neff says it’s also helpful to develop a self-compassion phrase. She tells herself, “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment.” But you can adopt a phrase of your own, like “This too will pass” or “I’m doing the best I can. “