Wednesday 28 September 2016

Bressie: Accept yourself for who you are to boost self-esteem

Self-praise doesn't come naturally, but learning to pat ourselves on the back every now and then will work wonders for our mood, says the singer and judge from The Voice

Niall Breslin

Published 16/02/2016 | 02:30

Bressie: espouses the practice of self-compassion.
Bressie: espouses the practice of self-compassion.

If ever a television commercial caught the essence and personality of a culture it would have to be the Aldi TV advert where a young woman refuses to take a sincere well-intentioned compliment from a friend about the black dress she is wearing. She wearily replies "this dress, are you actually serious, I actually hate this dress, I don't know why I wear it".

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Let's face it, we aren't very good at receiving compliments from others, in fact, in most cases it can create socially awkward scenarios where small talk turns to alternative safer topics such as the weather or the price of petrol.

On closer scrutiny over the years, a sense of clarity offered me a realisation that perhaps the reason we are so defensive to external compliments is because generally we don't adhere to the practice of self-compassion. I don't mean we should be high-fiving ourselves or gawking in a mirror endlessly, but I feel it's important to allow ourselves to internally highlight the goodness we all possess, if even at times we truly don't believe it.

Why is self-compassion one of the key foundations of well-being? During periods of perceived inadequacy and self-doubt, the default setting of most minds is to accept and even expect an almost domino effect of failure and adverse outcomes.

This sculpts a toxic environment where positivity drowns in a sea of negativity. These are situations every one of us will experience and the ability to gift yourself empathy and self-compassion rather than suffering will result in greater emotional resilience and psychological well-being.

It takes practice and an instilled habit, and it will be stress tested on occasions, but remember, mental fitness takes time and patience.

Dr Kristin Neff, the most celebrated scholar when it comes to the science of self-compassion, suggests that it's made up of three main and equally important components.

1. Self-Kindness

In tough times, rather than using yourself as an emotional punch bag, alter your attitude towards yourself to one of warmth and self-respect. Practice this to build that resilience.

2. Common Humanity

Accept that personal failure and rejection is a part of a shared human experience.

3. Mindfulness

Be aware of negative thoughts and emotions, don't suppress or deny them.

So how can you build self-compassion into your daily routines? Firstly, every evening as you are lying in bed, say one thing that you have done that day to yourself that you are proud of or was a nice thing to do. It doesn't have to be profound, something as simple as making a friend a cup of tea. Practice this every night until it becomes habit.

Another powerful tool is to look in the mirror once or twice a day and say "I completely accept myself as I am, right now". Over time you will notice the positive effect it can have on your general mood and self-esteem.

So the next time someone pays you a compliment, thank them for their kind words, absorb them, and perhaps return them too.

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