Take care, a friend said as we closed a heartfelt conversation. I could feel that she truly meant well for me. I say it to people too- and mean it with utmost sincerity .

I have observed and felt that the tonality of the term increases by multitudes when in a sensitive, vulnerable conversation. We give a compassionate ear to a friend or colleague who shares what they are struggling with at present. Maybe some repentance stories. Maybe the loss of a loved one . Maybe an illness they have just discovered. The list can be endless. Amidst their weak moments, we remind them of who they are, their strengths, the possibilities and how they can effectively deal with the situation.

This compassion that we readily share with others instantly is diminished when we go through similar situations. Rarely do we extend the same compassion to ourselves. Amidst the voices of negative self talk, berates, endless ruminations and societal voices, compassion towards oneself gets lost.

Self compassion has a simple yet profound premise — that your self is a ‘human’. Hence, deserves the kindness, respect, forgiveness and patience in the same way that we mete out to other humans. Self compassion is not self-indulgence, self-pity or ‘selfishness’. It is not being ‘soft’. It is indeed important to have the ability to discern and do an objective analysis of the self to work towards betterment . But — only after being kind to oneself and ‘taking care’ of oneself.

Research says that individuals with higher levels of self compassion report an increased level of psychological well being. As we go forward in the well being movement, it is crucial to understand the role of self compassion towards well being, self esteem and happiness.

So what are some easy ways in which we can begin taking care of ourselves and direct compassion to ourselves as well?

Balance the inner critic — We need to have a different conversation with ourselves. One that is kinder and forgiving. That nagging voice in the head needs to be consciously nudged and shaped into a calmer and more accepting voice.

Permit yourself — Allow and give yourself permission to say ‘NO’. To say ‘YES’. To try. To fail. To leave. To stay. To create. To celebrate. Whatever it maybe- give yourself permission to respond differently and break patterns & scripts.

Cultivate gratitude — Maybe a spiritual buzzword now of sorts. But gratitude is the way to a lot of things- including compassion. Feeling grateful for your ‘whole’ self, your strengths, your relationships, your successes and lessons in failure will eventually lead to higher self compassion.

Look after your physical self — Eat nourishingly, sleep 7–8 hours a day, take a massage, engage in exercises which you like. These are simple ways of beginning to practice compassion with yourself. When you begin to respond to your physical needs in a timely and healthy manner, you are teaching yourself to extend kindness to your own self. Listening to the body helps in listening to the mind.

On a lighter note, there is a place where taking care of the self has been practiced and promoted unabashedly. Listen carefully the next time you are in an airplane. It is always emphasized that in cases of emergencies, you should first wear the oxygen mask yourself before trying to help others.

It is only now I realise the poignancy of this statement 🙂

Originally published at medium.com