Exercising Self-Compassion on “Bad Days”

Recognizing and accepting that, as a member of the human race we are inherently imperfect, and will, therefore, always be subject to the occasional “bad day” is perhaps one of the most practical things we can do to increase our sense of psychological wellbeing and resilience to life’s difficulties. It is easy (and sometimes oddly satisfying) to berate ourselves for falling short of the expectations we hold for ourselves; however, doing so may only intensify and prolong our emotional distress when we’ve made a mistake or somehow failed to fulfill our personal standards of accomplishment.

What if we could make another choice? Instead of harshly judging ourselves after a moment of vulnerability, what if we could do or say something to soothe our distress in the very moments of our crisis? In fact, the second element of self-compassion is recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through—not just “me.” As such, exercising self-compassion offers us a pathway out of our suffering by helping us remember that everyone has bad days, everyone makes mistakes…we are all unmistakably imperfect.

Exercising self-compassion also means connecting with people who support us in the very moments we need them the most. For example, calling caring friend or supportive family member and sharing the details of our crisis can help to break the sense of isolation we may feel as a result of judging ourselves; moreover, the other person’s unconditional acceptance of us “warts and all” makes it difficult to keep blaming ourselves. Like preventing an arrow from being shot and wounding us after we’ve already been hit, exercising self-compassion after we’ve recognized how we’ve harshly judged ourselves can help ease our suffering on those bad days when we need some extra help to regain our balance. What do you think?

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