Written by: Kiana Oliver
As a college student, see if you relate to the following scenario: You finally hit the submit button on eClass for that last assignment, and you’re ready for bed. As your body settles in for much-needed sleep, your mind begins drifting. You think about the events of your day, week or maybe the past year. Suddenly, you cringe about that quiz you recently failed. You wonder if your classmates thought your question during class was foolish, or you remember the most embarrassing moment of your life. Maybe you haven’t been attentive as a friend or partner and now feel like the worst person in the universe. The list of self-criticism keeps growing and growing. Pretty soon, your rest time has turned into a barrage of attacks from your worst enemy: yourself.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Instead of seeing these incidents as mistakes, you berate yourself. But next time you’re bombarding yourself with negative thoughts, ask yourself: Would you talk to a friend this way? If any of your friends were having a bad day, would you respond by saying they’re stupid losers and should be ashamed of themselves? Spoiler alert: If you do, you probably won’t have many friends left. Nevertheless, we’re totally comfortable with saying these hurtful things to ourselves.
Maybe you’ve already heard of self-compassion and brushed it off as some psychobabble or a synonym for self-pity. However, according to an article by Kristin Neff of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, self-compassion “entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate.” She also rejects the assumption that self-compassion is self-pity or self-indulgence. Instead, being compassionate towards yourself entails wanting the best for yourself in the long run. Wallowing in excessive unhappiness or seeking pleasure through drugs, sexual hookups, overeating, etc., will harm your overall well-being.
To start practicing self-compassion, you can complete the self-compassion quiz on www.greatergood.berkeley.edu. Although I enjoy working out to alleviate stress, I’ve found that building self-compassion requires a slower paced activity such as breathing exercises. If you’re a beginner like me, you can find guided breathing sessions through Spotify or YouTube. I also recommend downloading the Soulspace app, which helps you draw closer to Christ and bring some peace into your busy life.
Lastly, remember to apply the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12 to your life. The next time you’re caught in a late night battle with your thoughts, offer yourself some kindness.