The Positivity Project’s theme for February is Practicing Self-Compassion. It couldn’t come at a better time for me. I’m already beating myself up over things I vowed to start or stop doing in 2021 that I didn’t stick too. Why do we do it? Why are we so critical of ourselves? We think nothing of beating ourselves up in ways we would never dream of talking to friends or co-workers. It’s not okay and it needs to stop.
When we are self-critical, we make ourselves feel threatened. And when we feel threatened, we go into the fight, flight, or freeze part of our brain. That is debilitating, counterproductive, and inhibits positive change. If we truly want to change our behavior or start doing something new, we need to calm down and access the executive functions of our brain. We need to fully feel our feelings and emotions, acknowledge them, honor them, and ask what we can do to move forward. That requires practicing self-compassion.
The Positivity Project Toolkit gives you an excellent overview of the what, why, and how to practice positivity. I encourage you to read more about it here. I’d like to share my own story of practicing self-compassion. As you all know, we’re getting ready to move into the 11th month of the COVID pandemic. Around the end of October, I hit a wall. I lost my joy of work and my joy in life was dwindling too. I felt lethargic, I wasn’t inspired to do anything and I couldn’t concentrate. I will be honest and share that there was about a week where I was logged on for work but I was a million miles away. At first I heard the inner drill sergeant ordering me to produce, produce!! And then I stopped and said, “I’m feeling really disengaged and uninspired. I feel like I can’t do anything I want to do and I want to be alone without anyone telling me what to do or what they need.” I planned my next few days around things I wanted to do for me, and guess what? It didn’t take very long before I started feeling more energized, I started getting new ideas for my writing and work activities and felt the joy come back. Once I honored my feelings and showed myself some warmth and kindness, I was able to show up as myself again and was able to show warmth and kindness to others.
Self-compassion is additive. The more you can be self-compassionate, the more you are capable of showing compassion to others. So I encourage you to not just believe the “evidence-based practices” we’ve shown you in the toolkit. Practice self-compassion and you can see how well it may work for you!