As Valentine’s Day draws near, your focus may shift to those you love. But take a moment and see if you treat your own self with the kind-heartedness that you would give a loved one. When faced with our mistakes or shortcomings, we often beat ourselves up – telling ourselves things like, “I’m so stupid” or “I can’t” – or by ruminating, “Should I have said that?.” Constant self-criticism or overthinking can make us anxious, insecure, and unmotivated.
In contrast, being kind to yourself – or having self-compassion – can lead to greater well-being. The pioneering researcher on self-compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as being “kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings” and embracing your whole self without self-judgment. Her research indicates that people who are compassionate to themselves are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress – and more likely to be happy, motivated, curious, optimistic, and socially connected.
So, as you pen thoughtful Valentines to your spouse, kids, or dear friends, take a moment to complete Dr. Neff’s quiz and see how compassionate you are to your own self. If you find that your inner critic is unrelenting, make it a Valentine’s gift to find one thing you can do to start to treat yourself with the kindness and acceptance you deserve.
Director, Thrivewell Coaching