Valentine’s Day can also be a reminder to love yourself. Self-compassion is one of the most important lessons learned in counseling. We all search for happiness. However, the process of self discovery often brings us to the realization that in order to access happiness, we must grow to love ourselves, to be kind to ourselves and to offer gentle self-compassion when life gets overwhelming.
Self-compassion researcher and author, Dr. Kristin Neff, defines self-compassion as treating yourself with the same kindness and consideration that you would a close friend. Dr. Neff emphasizes how every human being has the potential to be compassionate but for various reasons this may not be fully realized. Fortunately, by means of practice, compassion can be developed and deepened. Compassion training involves 3 components; Self-kindness (treating yourself with care and understanding rather than harsh judgment); Common humanity (seeing your own experience as part of a larger human experience rather than isolating or abnormal) and Mindfulness (being with painful feelings rather than suppressing or running away from them).
One way to deepen your practice of self-love and compassion is to write a love letter…to yourself. Think of the ways that you give and show love to others, and then reflect upon how you care for yourself. Below are some prompts to help you create a love letter draft to yourself.
- How have you treated yourself?
- How do you speak to yourself?
- In what ways do you need to apologize to yourself and how you treat your mind and body?
- What do you appreciate about yourself?
- What goals would you like to commit to in taking better care of yourself?
- Describe what it would look like if you truly loved yourself and practiced gentle self-compassion in times of struggle?
Remember that research shows that self-compassion is strongly linked to well being. This Valentine’s Day, give yourself these gifts as a celebration of love. Allow self-compassion to wash over you promoting clarity and healing.
Copyright 2017, Rachel Morici-Leirer. All rights reserved.