The Value of Self-Compassion

Students in college are balancing a lot of different responsibilities, from schoolwork, to jobs, to relationships, and for some, living on their own for the first time in their life. Although these things can be exciting, they’re also a lot to handle, and it’s understandable that some students find themselves feeling overly stressed or inadequate. One way for students to improve their mental health and, consequently, their life overall, is to build a sense of self-compassion.

Self-compassion is not about being selfish or lazy by letting yourself do whatever you want. Rather, the goal of self-compassion is to take care of yourself by treating yourself with kindness. Sometimes, we are our own worst critics. Self-compassion follows the philosophy that if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you shouldn't say it to yourself. The negative self-talk that so many of us participate only serves to damage our self-image without motivating us to change.

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Another crucial part of self-compassion is practicing mindfulness. To practice mindfulness, you must be aware of your negative emotions, but address them in a healthy and appropriate manner. The goal of mindfulness is that you will be able to deal with the conflicts in your life without letting them control you.

When you inevitably make a mistake or have to confront a problem from within your life, rather than becoming angry with yourself, remember that failure is a normal human experience. If you can learn to accept your flaws as being a natural part of life, then you may gain some perspective that will reduce your stress.

For students searching for ways to practice self-compassion within your daily life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has created a video series called Breathe, which features a number of resource for students feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Some of these videos may be helpful to students looking to become more self-compassionate. More resources are also available on the CAPS website.

No matter what, remember that it’s OK to make mistakes sometimes, and focus on loving yourself. After all, who do you spend more time with than yourself?