I know many social workers who assume that compassion for others and self-compassion are closely related concepts.
Yet, we know little about their relationship and to what extent they differ or resemble each other.
How Self-Compassion Will Make You a Better Social Worker
What is self – compassion?
Self-compassion is the ability to remain understanding toward ourselves; not being too hard on ourselves when we fail, or feel inadequate. It is not about ignoring any mishaps, but it is about recognising our mistakes, failures and blunders; accepting them, learning from them, and moving forward with our lives.
Self-compassion definition could also be about turning your inner critic into a self-supporter through self-awareness!
On the other hand, compassion is the feeling of deep sympathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Now, lets dive into compassion a bit further into compassion.
What is compassion?
Being compassionate will motivate a social worker to go out of his/her way to help other peoples’ physical, mental, or emotional needs within what their capacity.
Compassion has always been a core value in social work.
Compassion influences a social worker to cultivate the skill of curiosity about others.
Compassion together with empathy helps the social worker talk to others about their lives, interests, and views of the world around them.
Through compassion, the social worker can learn from his/her own experiences and reflect on how their actions or inactions may have affected others.
Through this, they can establish areas for improvement.
Compassion influences social workers to put themselves in the shoes of uncompassionate people.
Being compassionate helps social workers to take themselves on a mental journey.
The mental journey aids social workers to develop some imagination and see things in their mind’s eye.
Through their mind’s eye, the social worker can then imagine what someone else is thinking and feeling.
Compassion also helps social workers to challenge their prejudices.
Thus the social worker takes a step back and reflects upon someone’s life before making judgments.
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How can I work on self compassion?
Self compassion allows social workers to enhance their knowledge and clarity about their own limitations.
Through this, you can improve your mental health as a social worker and have greater life satisfaction.
So, how do you have self compassion?
You can work on your self-compassion by;
1. Forgiving yourself
Accept that you are not perfect, and you will make mistakes as you are human.
We all do!
I make mistakes all the time. All I can do is to try my best to learn from my mistakes, take responsibility for them, and do a better job next time.
When you are confronted by your mistakes and shortcomings, don’t punish yourself.
2. See challenges as opportunities
Do you often see challenges as impossible obstacles in your life?
If you do, then it is time for you to see them as opportunities to grow.
Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep going and enjoying the journey.
Happiness is not the absence of problems; it’s the ability to deal with them. So, aim to face life’s challenges and overcome them rather than dodging them.
Engaging in self compassion mindfulness practices such as meditation, expressing gratitude, self compassion mantras, positive affirmations will have a positive impact on your self-compassion.
It will provide you with a clear mindful path to self compassion.
This is because you will appreciate what you have and appreciate your life without judgement.
Be in the moment.
Learn how to Build Your Mindfulness Muscles.
We know meditation for self compassion to help us gain a new perspective of stressful emotions and reduces negative emotions.
Meditate for self compassion and pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of your body – when the mind wanders, bring it back.
Identify what your own needs are and find out what will support you to become a better ‘you’.
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Practice daily affirmations to help your subconscious mind understand that you are taking responsibility.
Through positive and daily affirmations, you’ll know that there is something you can do to make tomorrow better.
By consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life, you create a path towards change.
4. Transforming your mindset.
Self-compassion starts with changing your thoughts and focusing on the facts that your behavior was wrong.
Changing your thoughts will help you be kinder to yourself and open up your mind to the possibility of making changes.
What helps in transforming your mindset are self compassion books such as Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King and The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.
5. Speaking and thinking kindly about yourself.
When you continuously tell yourself you are unworthy and a mess, you will soon start to believe it since your words are compelling.
It would help if you changed your comments, which will help you have more compassion for yourself.
6. Avoid judgments and assumptions.
Making assumptions or judgments about what you will do in the future will limit your opportunity of choosing a different path.
You should be open to all possibilities instead of limiting yourself.
What are the benefits of self compassion?
Self-compassion is being warm and understanding towards ourselves in times of suffering and failure instead of ignoring the pain or self-criticism.
Self-compassion comprises three elements, which are;
- Self- Kindness
- Common Humanity.
Self-compassion helps take a balanced approach to a person’s negative emotions by ensuring feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.
When a person observes negative thoughts and emotions with openness, it helps the person because he holds them in mindful awareness.
Here are some benefits of self-compassion:
1. It increases motivation
Self-compassion increases people’s motivation to learn, change for the better, and to avoid the repetition of past mistakes.
An individual capacity for creativity and curiosity is increased by self-compassion.
Self-compassionate people have less fear of failure and show greater confidence in their abilities to reach their goals.
Furthermore, if the plans of a person do not get achieved, they don’t get upset.
2. Self-compassion boosts happiness
When you have self-compassion, you improve your mental health by decreasing your stress levels.
Through the practice of self-compassion, you will pursue greater happiness, which is a gift to yourself and those around you.
As you seek new healthy ways of living and relating to yourself, you begin to experience happiness.
Self-compassion also enhances your spiritual well-being.
4. Self-compassion improves your body image
Self-compassionate individuals have a better body image.
Being self-compassionate shift negative body image to positive body image and learning to accept oneself as they are.
Self-compassion helps one to take one’s body as it is rather than criticising it.
When you focus less on your appearance and befriend your body, you will focus your mental energy on living your best life.
5. Helps to reduce mental health problems
Self-compassion is beneficial in lowering the levels of anxiety and depression.
When self-compassionate people recognise they are suffering, they are kind to themselves at these times.
This helps in reducing their stress and related depression.
When they nurture themselves, it sets the stage for better health and general well-being.
Why self compassion works better than self-esteem?
Self-compassion involves being warm and understanding toward yourself, even during times of failure.
On the other hand, self-esteem requires you to compare yourself with others to feel you are better than them somehow.
Self-compassion provides a sense of self-worth, unlike self-esteem, which gives self-worth, which is self-centered.
While self-esteem is linked and dependent on social comparison, self-compassion is there whether you fail or succeed.
Besides, self-compassion gives a sense of self-worth, which is more stable because it comes from being kind to yourself.
Whereas self–esteem gives a sense of self-worth that comes from judging yourself positively.
How do I practice self-compassion?
People who are not self-compassionate believe there is something wrong with them.
They don’t think they should be happy, and there is no point in doing anything to improve their situation.
The key lies in practice since they still connect to their innate capacity.
Once they practice self-compassion, a shift will occur.
Here are tips for practicing self-compassion:
1. Start small
The simple acts and gestures of self-care demonstrate a sense of kindness and nurturance to oneself.
2. Beware of your experiences without judgment
Not judging yourself will always help you see your experiences as something you are undergoing rather than seeing them as who you are.
3. Get curious
Relating to yourself with kindness is the hardest part of self-compassion.
Therefore, get curious because curiosity is a potent form of empathy.
4. Explore the exceptions.
When your inner critic speaks in absolutes, seek the exceptions.
When you fail, it does not mean you will always fail.
Self-compassion tips to practice today
Self-compassion has a positive effect on improved mental health and greater life satisfaction.
Here are self-compassion tips to practice:
- Don’t suppress your pain or fight against it.
- Embrace yourself with care and kindness.
- Remember, imperfection is part of shared human experience.
- Give yourself support and comfort while in pain.
- Provide yourself with optimal conditions for growth and transformation.
- Be a slow learner while practicing self-compassion.
- Give yourself what you need at the moment.
- Practice forgiveness
- Express gratitude for what you have
- Be mindful.
Self—compassion helps social workers in alleviating their suffering.
Being self-compassionate will help you embrace yourself with care and kindness.
Thus, self-compassion will improve your mental health, and you will live a good life.