How to Cultivate More Self Compassion (Hint: It May Involve 'Self-Hugging')


“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

― Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

Are you really hard on yourself?

I sure am.

As much as I believe I’m being compassionate to myself on the daily, most of the time my inner dialogue is saying “you could be doing better.”

The truth is this is exhausting. And I’m getting pretty tired of the negative feedback loop especially because on paper it looks like I’m killin’ it. One ridiculous example of this is I’m  I’m taking an online course at Harvard and I’m currently am getting 100.5% in the class, yet I feel like I could be doing more. #facepalm

So for my February challenge, I wanted to take on 30 days of self-compassion. The way I decided to quantify this was to aim to do 30 days of a self-compassion meditation.

Recently I attended a seminar by meditation teacher and co-author of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Jeff Warren.


We did a self-compassion or ‘loving kindness’ meditation that really resonated with me. It focused on sending love to myself and specific people in my life. If you’d like to try it, he shares a free demo of the The Reasonableness of Loving-Kindness on his website.

So what happened? In short: I did not complete a daily self-compassion meditation. I did meditate every day (from 1-20 minutes) though I couldn’t muster the energy most days to feel the love for myself. I found that February gripped me harder than before. It’s almost like my declaring I wanted more self-compassion, my ego went into overdrive to squash the seedling of more kindness.

I did, however, start to see the light at the end of the month. I had to take a ‘sick day’ (which is quite rare for me) as I was feeling just terrible. I know feeling sick was due to stress and it opened my eyes to the power of not taking care of myself.

And so, I’m going into March with a real desire to switch things up and feel better.

In fact, I’ve been dreaming about living in a world in which I am my own BFF.

Here’s how that would look:

  • I take a night off when I’m exhausted (and feel zero guilt). Perhaps even schedule an entire day off work?!
  • I tell myself it’s okay when I sleep in, instead of saying ‘why didn’t you get up the first time...’
  • If I fail, I tell myself, “It’s okay. It happens. You’ll rock it next time.”
  • I eat well, exercise, meditate, and generally treat my body like a temple and not a garbage can.
  • I honour my boundaries.
  • Before saying YES to an opportunity, coffee chat or taking on extra work, I shall pause and check in with myself to see if it feels like fun or if it seems like EXTRA work. If it feels heavy, I let it go.

Also, upon further researching the topic of self-compassion, I’ve discovered there’s actually a Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) and experts who have spent the majority of their working lives on the topic.

I love what I discovered from expert Kristen Neff (one of the founders of CMSC). She shares that her team has identified three components of self-compassion:

  • Physical warmth
  • Gentle touch
  • Soothing vocalization

So yes, if you’re thinking ‘self-hugging’ you’re absolutely right.

[CHALLENGE: I encourage you to do this right now. How does it feel to literally hug yourself, hold your arms and talk soothingly to yourself. Comforting right?]

Sure, it may be weird, though this challenge has opened up my eyes to how easy (it can be to take a moment to treat yourself with kindness).

So for my March challenge, I’m taking on something a little different. I’m going to sleep with my phone NOT in my room. Yes, this means I won’t be sleeping with my phone under my pillow or anywhere near the vicinity of my face. I’m aiming to make mo’ progress with waking up in the mornings and enjoying a peaceful morning before going to work.

Have a wonderful March y’all!

- Gwen

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