Updated February 9, 2019
How often do you give yourself praise for the amazing things you do every day? Chances are pretty good that you perform a number of commendable deeds daily. However, it’s also likely that you fail to notice these acts in favor of pointing out your own flaws instead. It’s human nature to take note of our shortcomings over giving ourselves credit for the things we do well. It’s also true that the way we think has a great impact on the way we feel. When you’re sending yourself negative messages on a regular basis, it can be incredibly difficult to overcome them and act in compassionate ways. An empathetic attitude for others begins with a healthy view of yourself.
One of the most powerful ways of transforming your thoughts is to create affirmations about empathy and self-compassion. In addition, having the ability to forgive yourself will enable you to empathize and forgive others. To learn more about these strategies, read on for a definition of affirmations and forgiveness and how to incorporate them into your daily life.
Self-Compassion Through Affirmations
An affirmation is merely a positive phrase about yourself. It is used to encourage mindfulness of your own good qualities, amazing talents and awesome potential. Being mindful is the spark that ignites empathy. Noticing your feelings, the occurrences immediately surrounding you and the happenings within the larger world is key to being able to feel the experiences of others. Saying affirmations aloud is a way to call to mind your strengths. You can write your own affirmations, obtain them from a book or find them online. The important thing about these uplifting statements is that they are relevant to you in a personal way. Common affirmations include reminders such as, “I am worthy of love,” or, “My mind is strong and can see me through any obstacle.” Creating a practice of exposing yourself to such nuggets of goodness each day can lead to a multitude of powerful outcomes.
The Benefits of Affirmations
One of the greatest outcomes of this type of positive self-talk is improved sense of self. You eventually begin to believe the wonderful things you are internalizing each day. When you feel good about yourself, that positive attitude carries through into everything you do. You have the emotional energy to be there for others, rather than focusing on tasks of mere survival. This renewed spirit often translates into compassionate action. Feelings of strength and capability regarding yourself give you the confidence to undertake much more within the world than you previously could. Your newfound autonomy and the successes you achieve can actually change your world view. You’ll be surprised at how much more empathy you can display for others when you think highly of yourself. Finally, you’ll just feel better. In fact, you may notice that you have more energy and decreased physical pains than you did prior to taking on your affirmation practice.
Practical Ways to Use Affirmations
Studies have shown that self-affirmations produce the above benefits, along with numerous other positive outcomes. Engaging in a practice of daily affirmations does bring about more compassion in ways that cause you to act in more prosocial ways. In order to reap the benefits of this process, you absolutely must be consistent in your exposure. Thus, you’ll want to create a daily routine in which you reflect upon your chosen affirmations. The time, place and method you choose to do this is entirely up to you. In fact, it should be customized in ways that are most meaningful to your life. If you’re a morning person, you may wish to incorporate positive self-talk into your start-of-the-day ritual. This is a great way to instill mindfulness for the day ahead. Repeating uplifting statements throughout the day is also wonderful in this capacity. Night owls may wish to close out the daily grind with a reflection on their outstanding qualities. You can read your affirmations from a book or screen, write them down, create journals or collages surrounding your mantras or simply meditate on them silently. It doesn’t matter, as long as this is happening on a regular basis.
I consider self-forgiveness to be along the same vein as self-affirmations. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been disappointed with the consequences of our own actions. One of the best things you can do to prevent such fallout is to learn and practice self-forgiveness. Forgiving can allow you to release the harmful emotional bonds of past hurts and to move forward in a more open and accepting manner.
A common defense mechanism for many is to simply “sweep things under the rug” when our actions results in an undesired outcome. Acting as if the incident never occurred or trying to ignore it may help you to temporarily avoid discomfort, but isn’t likely to insulate you in the long run. To truly forgive yourself involves making a conscious effort to let go of feelings like anger, sadness and resentment you hold toward yourself. Holding onto your personal grudges metaphorically keeps part of you in the past. You can’t live your best life in this moment when remnants of the past are holding you back. Forgiving yourself can bring you enhanced peace of mind, relief, improved mental health, better current relationships and so much more. By granting forgiveness, you’re giving yourself the closure that has probably seemed elusive for so long. When you are able to forgive yourself, you are better able to forgive others.
Self-compassion can be challenging for many of us as it seems a lot easier to be kind and compassionate towards other people. A life lived with self-compassion is an excellent motivation strategy, and when self-affirmations and self-forgiveness are employed, it can lead to enhanced empathy and compassion in your life.
Call to Action: What are your thoughts regarding self-compassion? Do you think it is a selfish practice? How can be less hard on yourself?
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