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Setting Goals with Self Compassion

Rachel Smith, LPCC-S, LCADC, Director, Mending Point Behavioral Health
January 1, 2021

With the new year here, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about our goals for 2021. When we start thinking about what we want to accomplish in the upcoming year, it’s important to find a balance between setting realistic goals that will motivate us without consuming us. We are naturally inclined to be hard on ourselves and we are often our toughest critics – this can be at a deep personal cost to our mental health and self-esteem.

When creating and working towards our goals, we should strive to do so with self-compassion. Self-compassion is best described as “a healthier way of relating to yourself.” It’s easy to beat ourselves up for not achieving our goals, but it’s important to assure ourselves that we’re doing our best and we’ll move on and keep trying. When we’re constantly thinking of all the things we have yet to accomplish, it is easy to become overwhelmed and avoid facing those challenges head on. This avoidance can increase levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Self-critics are much more likely to be anxious and depressed – two feelings that can keep us drowning in a negative mindset. Self-compassion is one way to combat self-criticism and feelings of failure. Self-compassion comes from a desire to be healthy. Self-compassion is a skill we learn through practice.

How to Practice Self-Compassion Daily

  1. Beware of your words – We talk to ourselves all day long. This self-talk may be internal, but it is an important piece of how we view ourselves and develop our identity. It’s essential to not say anything to or about ourselves that we wouldn’t say to someone we care about. Critical self-talk only discourages us from continuing to work hard towards our personal goals.
  2. Treat yourself like a friend – How would we react if someone came tous and was struggling with not reaching their goals? What would we sayto them? Seeing things from a different perspective is an important part of moving forward.
  3. Acknowledge ALL of your achievements – Every accomplishment is one step closer to reaching your goals. Sometimes we need to take a step back and realize what we have overcome and accomplished thus far. It might be helpful to keep a list of these accomplishments to help remind you of what you’re capable of. It’s important for us to see self-compassion as a way of nurturing ourselves so we can reach our full potential. A little self-compassion goes a long way in setting and reaching our future goals.

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