Refill your tank: 3 ways cultivate self-compassion on hard days
You’re always messing things up. You’ll never get things right. You never seem to say the right thing. You are ugly. You don’t belong to be here.
Most of us would never say these phrases to someone, but how often have these ugly words replayed in your mind or even come out your mouth about yourself?
Sadly, I will admit I have been there.
Even as a child, I held high (often unrealistic) expectations of who I should be and what I should accomplish. Sadly, I only carried my lack of self-compassion into my role as a wife and mother.
Oh, yes. On my overwhelming days, the things I would say to myself I would never say to a friend.
My ugly, critical words were chains keeping me bound to negativity and fear. This was NOT the life Christ promised. Negativity was only a thief stealing my joy and killing any hope of living abundantly in the life God promised.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).
Developing compassion for ourselves is not so simple when we try to do it in our strength. Instead, we need the aid of the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do the work to take captive our critical thoughts so we can cultivate self-compassion, especially on the hard days.
We each deserve the same understanding, compassion, gentleness, and patience we so freely offer to others. The type of understanding that says “I know this hurts” and how can I care for myself at this moment?
Instead of continuously criticizing and judging yourself for all your shortcomings, self-compassion allows you to embrace your frailties with kindness and understanding.
The next time you have an overwhelming day, and it seems like nothing you do goes right, please pause. Take a moment and give yourself some compassion. Not sure where to start. Here are three phrases you can use to help you cultivate self-compassion today.
I forgive myself.
Say this with me. “I forgive myself.”
We have all done things we are not proud of. Maybe you promised to play with your kid, but you watched Netflix instead. Maybe you yelled at your husband just because you were tired. Maybe you said some hurtful things to a friend. Perhaps you spent the money you were supposed to save.
I get it. I have laid in my bed at night rehearsing all the ways I missed the mark AGAIN. You fussed at your kids AGAIN. You decided to eat your emotions AGAIN. In that overwhelming moment, you can feel as if you mess up everything you do. This is a lie! This is the human condition we all share — one filled with failing and getting back up again.
The biggest hurdle in your way to a path of forgiveness is often the guilt associated with our mistakes. This is the trick of the enemy. Guilt is meant to take you captive, to keep you stuck in your mistakes, and isolated from meaningful relationships.
When we go to God, repent of our wrongdoings, we can lay our guilt down. His word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” ( 1 John 1: 9).
The next time you find yourself being critical because you messed up, say out loud “I forgive myself” then allow the Holy Spirit to direct you on how to make the necessary changes WITHOUT condemnation.
What is God showing me?
The next time you have a hard day instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” pause to ask “What is God showing me?”
When we ask “what” we focus on opportunities to grow instead of punishment for mistakes, we open our hearts to be directed by the Holy Spirit instead of being directed by our need to be validated by people. The moment we decide to show self-compassion during the hard moments, we allow ourselves to live a life true to who we are.
Hard days are not punishment. In many cases, the hard days are moments for God to show up in magnificent ways in our lives. We find strength in being surrender to His will. The next time your day is not going the way you planned, take a moment to ask God, “What is it you are showing me?” then be willing to see.
I am learning.
How often have you thought to yourself, “How am I so stupid?”, “I’ll never be able to do this,” or “I’ll never change.”? This negative self-talk is often a default for many of us. We believe that the inner critic is a motivator for us to push harder and do more. But this is another lie!
Instead of saying “I will never be able to do this” replace it with “I am learning.” Anytime we are learning; we are also growing. The moment we are stretched outside our comfort zones, we are challenged to face our fears. Then just like that, we step into wonder.
The perfectionist in you, the performer in you, the people pleaser in you will cringe at the idea of making mistakes. Yes, I know you want to do things “right.” But hear me, friend, you will make mistakes, but you are NOT the mistake. Self-compassion reminds you to reflect on what you can learn even on the hard days.
Dear friend, I hope today you walk away knowing that love and compassion for yourself are not luxuries, but rather necessities to a healthy, whole you. Self-compassion is a vital tool to help us be better women, wives, mothers, and contributors to our societies. We step out of the prison of perfectionism to embrace our humanity. We can be flawed, broken, and still a masterpiece. We are worthy of love, of goodness, of all God has in store for us. Let your words be sprinkled with love, kindness, and understanding. Today a fresh start filled with untapped potential.
Cheering you on,