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A Call To Be Kind: Starting with Self-Compassion During Mental Health Week


Imagine you are 6 years old again, you are busy playing in your living room while your mother is in the kitchen cooking, and as you stand up you stub your toe in a chair. You screamed “Ouch! Mom! Ouch!” Your mother rushed to the living room asking you “What happened what happened?!” Which is a completely valid reaction.


But Now that you’re an adult, reflect on that moment, what are you seeking from your mother after that? What would you like to do?


“But compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar


Just like this quote, yes, you are looking for the love and care that your mother will give while you are hurting. Your toe hurts, do you still want to explain what happened? No. You’d rather have your mom hug you and tell you that it’s gonna be okay. This does not apply for physical pain only but also with emotional or psychological pain.


Someone in so much emotional distress would rather want us to show support than to immediately start asking questions and look for answers.


This week from May 6th to May 12th is Mental Health Week in Canada and this year the theme is “A Call to be Kind”. This theme is calling all of us to be kind and compassionate and bring back our faith to our humanity in this world full of suffering and hate.


But where do we start? Start with yourself, self-compassion.


How can I develop Self-Compassion?


Most of the time we’re the harshest critics of ourselves. We tend to focus more on our own negatives and always do some self-criticism and we tend to forget to treat ourselves with some kindness and self-compassion. So, here are some simple ways to develop your self-compassion:


  1. Talk and Treat Yourself Like a Precious Friend:

Imagine your best friend is feeling down. What would you say? You wouldn’t belittle them, right? Instead, you’d offer words of encouragement and support. Now, apply that same treatment to yourself. For example, instead of “Ugh, I messed up again,” try: “Hey, everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay, I’ll learn from this.”


  1. Become aware of your thoughts and feelings… without judgment!

Try some mindfulness exercises to help you become aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This allows you to observe self-criticism without getting caught up in its negativity. You could do some grounding exercises by taking a few deep breaths, noticing your surroundings, and feeling your body against the chair.


  1. Turn that negative inner voice to a positive one! 

Pay attention to your inner voice. Is it constantly critical and negative? Challenge those thoughts and reframe them in a compassionate way. For example, instead of “I’m such a failure,” try: “This is a tough situation, but I’m doing my best.”


  1. Create Your Self-Compassion Toolkit.

Write down affirmations that remind you of your worth, like “I am worthy of love and happiness.” Keep these handy to pull out when you need a quick pick-me-up.


  1. Make a move!

Soothe your body by doing some certain physical techniques that can activate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a sense of calm and safety. For example,  do a butterfly hug by crossing your arms over your chest, gently patting your shoulders. Or even a simple walk, stretch, or some gentle yoga, as long as you do some movements.


Remember, self-compassion is not an easy task. It’s a journey, a continuous practice of changing our inner voices from harsh criticism to gentle understanding. It takes time, patience, and a willingness to see ourselves with the same kindness we want to give others. But once you have a habit of having some self-compassion, that’s the start. It’s going to be easy for you to be kind and compassionate with others too.


Think of it like this: when we fill our own cup with self-compassion, we have more to offer to those around us. This self-compassion naturally spills over into your interactions with others.


It is also a ripple effect, spreading kindness and one compassionate act at a time. So, be gentle with yourself. Celebrate your wins, big and small, and offer yourself the same compassion you so readily extend to others.


If you need additional help, do not hesitate to reach out. Your therapist can help you explore where your lack of self-compassion comes from and create the right strategy to fill this.


If you know a friend or a family member who is having a hard time being compassionate, share this article with them on social media – they may find it helpful.


How will you start practicing self-compassion? Leave a comment below!