Top 3 Reasons to Show Yourself Compassion This Year, and How to Start

Let's make 2023 all about healing our relationship with ourselves. Here's how to start.

Ashlee Valentine CNET Contributor
Ashlee is an MBA business professional by day and a dynamic freelance writer by night. Covering industries like banking, finance, and health & wellness, her work has been published on sites like bankrate.com, thesimpledollar.com, interest.com, womens-health.com and more. Ashlee specializes in personal finance and is passionate about helping others achieve greater financial freedom.
Ashlee Valentine
5 min read
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No matter what time of year it is and how stretched thin you may feel from obligations and expectations, don't let self-love take a back seat. Have you ever wondered why it's so hard to show yourself some grace and understanding? You deserve just as much love and compassion as you give to others. 

As the new year approaches, we challenge you to make self-compassion a New Year's resolution you practice year-round, every year. Because you are worth it.

Here's how to make self-compassion a priority (and why it's a must). 

What is self-compassion?

Self-compassion is the act of showing kindness, mindfulness and compassion to oneself, and it is a vital component of happiness, mental health and self-love. It is a way of relating to oneself in a positive way

Sounds easy enough, right? 

The truth is that for many of us, it's much easier to show compassion to others than it is to show it to ourselves. The same circumstances that leave us extending a kind hand to someone else may have us judging and criticizing ourselves. 

Compassion is centered around social well-being, while self-compassion is centered around personal well-being. Self-compassion asks the question, "what do I need right now?" Because of that I-focused question, self-compassion has gotten a bad rap of being selfish and that couldn't be more untrue. 

Think of self-compassion like oxygen masks on an airplane. We are taught that if you don't give yourself oxygen first, you will be no help to others who need you. The same is true that if you don't practice self-compassion, your mental health can take a dip and the negative effects of that will be felt by everyone in your life. 

Yes, it's time to make self-compassion a part of your daily life.

3 reasons to implement self-compassion into your life

This time of year, holiday stress may make you feel the need for change more than ever. There are many reasons implementing self-compassion into your life is beneficial, but here are three reasons that will have the most profound impact on your quality of life. 

You'll have healthier relationships

Did you know that people who show self-compassion may be more likely to show compassion to others? Showing yourself some love can also help you to be a better caregiver to others in need. 

But there's no magic here. Accepting and embracing that you are flawed, or a perfectly imperfect human allows you to recognize the human condition in others, making you more sympathetic, empathic and compassionate. And those things can be big enhancers to your relationships, both romantic and non-romantic. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which relies on the premise that negative thinking causes emotional difficulties, says that our thoughts, feelings and behavior are all related. In other words, treating ourselves from the inside out can make a significant difference in our behavior and therefore, our relationships.

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Simply put, being better to yourself makes you better to others. 

Your anxiety and depression levels will decrease

Research shows that self-criticism, anxiety and depression are closely related. If you have anxiety and depression, take note of your self-talk. Is it negative and critical? Self-compassion is a thought exercise that can help you manage anxiety and depression symptoms.

Studies have shown that people who are more self-compassionate exhibit fewer symptoms of depression and fewer negative emotions. 

Negative emotions are a part of life, and they aren't going anywhere. But with the right coping strategies, how you manage those emotions can change. Fix yourself a cup of stress-relieving herbal tea and work on replacing any associated self-criticism with self-compassion. The familiar saying, "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing," should apply to yourself, too. 

You'll be happier 

Self-compassion is all about supporting and encouraging yourself, in good times and bad. You're used to giving that to others, but when you start to give it to yourself, too, positive thoughts and feelings of happiness quickly begin to replace the negative. As a result, you'll see radical improvement in your mental and physical well-being or, in other words, a much happier you. 

5 ways to start practicing self-compassion

Healthier relationships, less anxiety and depression and overall greater levels of happiness sound pretty incredible, right? Now that you know self-compassion can add those things to your life, you may be wondering how to achieve self-compassion. 

Here are a few easy self-compassion exercises that you can implement into your daily life. 

Think about how you'd treat someone else

Next time you find yourself slipping into a negative frame of mind that includes self-criticism or self-judgment, stop and ask yourself how you'd respond to a friend in the same situation. If your answer is much different than you're responding to yourself, take the opportunity to change the way you self-talk. Show yourself the same compassion you'd extend to someone else. 

Use affirmations

 Affirmations are a great way to make your self-talk more positive while also reminding yourself how worthy you are of love and kindness. Here are a few affirmations to try:

  • I am human, and it is OK to make mistakes. I forgive myself.
  • I am more than enough. 
  • I am embracing my emotions and know I will work through them in a positive way. 
  • I deserve to be loved by myself and others.
  • Positive affirmations on sticky notes.
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Use positive language 

Pay attention to your words, especially those you say to yourself. Begin looking for ways to replace negative language with positive language. Here is an example: Replace "I always mess up" with "I did a good job catching and correcting that mistake."

Accept imperfection

Hey, guess what? It's totally normal to be imperfect.Once you learn to embrace your imperfections, you'll find yourself feeling freer and happier than ever before. However, if keeping a messy home is one of your flaws, consider that a clean space can actually improve your mental health. 

Write yourself a letter

Writing can be therapeutic. Take the time to write yourself a letter. It can be to your current self or yourself at a different phase of life. Pretend like you're writing it to someone else and tell them what you like and admire about them. Read the letter any time you're feeling self-criticism and negativity taking over your thoughts. Read aloud, the letter is also full of personalized affirmations.

These are just a few easy ways to practice self-compassion, but there are so many others. This new year, show yourself the love and compassion we know you deserve and watch life become a lot more beautiful. 

For more ways to enhance self-compassion, learn how to use breathing exercises to relieve stress and learn how to exercise body positivity in these books

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.