Sometimes I get to the end of my work day, realizing that my to-do list is longer than it was in the morning, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. Then on weekends, I feel like I should be catching up on housework and work tasks that didn’t get done, It feels never-ending and overwhelming at times. 

“I should have…”  

“I should be…”  

If this sounds familiar, then congratulations, you’re human. 

You may feel like you aren’t a good enough parent/partner/employee/etc, or you’re upset with yourself for a mistake you made. We are our own worst critics. We know this, and yet most of us can use reminders to be more gentle with ourselves. Make the next month your month to practice self-compassion: be kind to yourself and recognize that you are doing your best.  Practice is a key word here, as it take time to rewire your critical self into a compassionate self.  Self-compassion does not mean believing we are better than others or that anything we do is acceptable; it simply means that we extend kindness and care to ourselves when we are in emotional pain. 

There are many ways to practice self-compassion, and here are a few strategies you may find simple and helpful: 

Celebrate the small things: 

  • Did you do something you had been putting off?
  • Did you stick to a plan or goal?
  • Did you show your family you love them?

Consider writing these down, and remember that NOTHING is too small to include. Maybe having a shower was your biggest accomplishment of the day, and some days, that’s just perfect. 

Imagine that you are speaking to a loved one or a small child 

When you notice you’re feeling inadequate, think about what you would say to a good friend who was in your situation. It can be challenging at first, but once you are able to consider your circumstances from a different perspective, it completely changes the way you think about it. 

Dr. Kristin Neff, PhD is a leading figure in this field, and she has a TED Talk and self-compassion exercises available on her website. 

-Dr. Alexa Birdgeneau ND