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The Importance of Self-Love

Woman stands in front of lake making heart shape with her hands.

By Caren Anderson

As Valentine’s Day approaches, our focus and energy turns to our relationships and the love and compassion we have and show to our significant others and loved ones. No
matter the time of year, a lot of our energy, care and concern is shown and put into our relationships, but not always turned inwards towards ourselves.

What does it mean to love oneself?

We often hear the terms self–love and self–compassion. The words are used interchangeably but what does it all mean?

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. It involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would to others when
you are having a difficult time, fail an exam, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring the pain and taking the stiff upper lip mentality you stop to comfort and care for yourself in this moment.

Instead of judging and criticizing yourself for various short comings, inadequacies, or personal failings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.

Dr. Kristin Neff is a leading expert in the area of self-compassion.

She identifies the three elements of self-compassion:

1. Self-kindness vs self judgement: treating oneself with understanding and forgiveness rather than harsh judgements.

2. Common humanity vs isolation: acknowledgement that people are not perfect and personal experiences are part of the larger human experiences.

3. Mindfulness vs over-identification: allow us to be with painful feelings as they are rather than avoid extremes of suppression or running away with painful feelings.

What are the benefits of self-love and self-compassion?
Having compassion reduces negative thinking patterns, anxiety, depression, stress, perfectionism, shame and body dissatisfaction.

It also increases positive thinking patterns and states, life satisfaction, happiness, self-confidence and promotes resiliency.

Resources for self compassion:
1. Take this quiz by Kristin Neff’s: https://self-compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/

2. Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind: Self Compassion by Kristin Neff, PhD.

3. Practice your skills with The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook: A proven way to accept yourself and leave insecurity behind by Christopher Gerner, PhD and
Kristin Neff, PHD.

4. Practice mindfulness. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Christopher Gerner, PhD.

Counselling Quick Tips
1. It’s important to carve out time and prioritize your self-care activities.

2. Be kind to yourself.

3. Be aware of your inner critic and negative self-talk.

4. Challenge your inner critic and practice positive self-talk.

Counsellor in suit poses in front of screen.
Supplied photo.

Hello!
My name is Caren Anderson and I am a Registered
Social Worker with NAIT Student Counselling. You can
find me over at W11-PB.

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