Difficult situations become even harder when we beat ourselves up over them, interpreting them as a sign that we’re less capable or worthy than other people.
In fact, we often judge ourselves more harshly than we judge others, especially when we make a mistake or feel stressed out. That can make us feel isolated, unhappy, and even more stressed; it may even make us try to feel better about ourselves by denigrating other people.
Rather than harsh self-criticism, a healthier response is to treat yourself with compassion and understanding.
According to psychologist Kristin Neff, this “self-compassion” has three main components: mindfulness, a feeling of common humanity, and self-kindness.
This exercise walks you through all three of those components when you’re going through a stressful experience. Research suggests that people who treat themselves with compassion rather than criticism in difficult times experience greater physical and mental health. Take a Wellness Minute and give it a try!