4 Valuable Ways To Focus On Self-Compassion and Mental Health

Posted in News, Insights, Motivational, Next Steps

Self-compassion is crucial to our overall wellbeing and mental health. We must focus on what benefits us and consider using a strategy as simple as positive self-talk to reinforce our self-compassion.

  • “Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you’re good enough, self-compassion asks what’s good for you? It taps into your inner desire to be healthy and happy. If you care about yourself, you’ll do what you need to do in order to learn and grow. Valuing ourselves in a deep way makes us want to make choices that lead to well-being.”
    - Kristen Neff, Ph.D., researcher and author of Self-Compassion

4 Valuable Ways To Focus On Self-Compassion and Mental Health, Marshall Connects, OntarioWithout a doubt, you are your best caregiver and your most precious resource.

Getting to know and understand who you are and what makes you tick is well worth the investment.  As you become more self-aware, it becomes easier to focus on yourself. Self-compassion is all about taking care of you, which leads to good mental health and overall wellbeing.

When we practise self-compassion, we establish what Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. describes, "a secure base to deal with challenges." That base helps us grow and become more resilient, leading us to more fulfilled lives. Here are some strategies that will help you concentrate on what will benefit you.

Practise each strategy to reinforce your self-compassion and mental health.

#1 Be gentle with yourself 

Being gentle with yourself is an excellent self-compassion practice strategy. It involves the capacity to practise love, acceptance, and understanding to extend to others to ourselves. This strategy may sound elementary, but sadly, many find it challenging to do.

Some individuals chose not to practise self-compassion, fearing they will become more vulnerable or perhaps revisit painful memories. Others feel focusing on self-care is selfish. Developing compassion for oneself in perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering is relevant to becoming more resilient. Exercising self-compassion improves self-awareness and lessens anxiety and depression. It's about taking care of yourself and knowing you are worth the effort.

#2 Avoid perfectionism 

Striving to be perfect is detrimental to our mental health and wellbeing. For many, driving toward perfection, being flawless and continuously measuring performance to live error-free is the ultimate goal. Others strive for perfection out of fear of failure and spend time mourning disappointments instead of celebrating achievements and planning future accomplishments. I've learned there is a high price to pay when perfection is the goal.

It isn't easy to understand how striving to be flawless can affect one negatively, but it can. If you place your emphasis on small mistakes and getting things perfect all the time, you miss out on things happening around you. Simple, joyful pleasures can go unnoticed, leaving you feeling empty.

Instead of judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion encourages you to be kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?  

#3 Use positive self-talk

Using positive self-talk is an ideal strategy to remind us that we have worked through challenges in the past and can manage this, too. It is also a useful technique that often provides us with the courage to continue on and not give up.

When our self-talk is positive, it helps us flourish, keeping us motivated and productive. By using positive self-talk, we avoid feeling defeated. Negative self-talk can derail us and plunge us into a descending emotional spiral. Practising positive self-talk enforcement throughout the day allows us to view any situation and get the most out of it.

It's astonishing how much power we possess when we control our thoughts, emotions and monitor how we speak to ourselves. To realize change takes both patience and practice. When you catch yourself using negative self-talk, acknowledge it, stop yourself and consciously revert your mindset to positivity. With diligence and concentration, you will retrain your brain to use positive self-talk consistently.

#4 Beware of negative bias

Negative bias plays a significant role in how we think. It controls our thoughts and emotions. We're generally hard-wired to focus on the negative, such as past experiences or things we don't do well. This behaviour can erode our confidence and affect our approach to adversity. Without question, we undermine our performance when we're self-critical. Practising self-compassion can reduce stress and inspire us to focus on ourselves to prepare us to manage hardship and become more resilient.

 Reflect on how you take care of yourself and focus on your self-care. If you are not practising self-compassion, it will negatively affect your mental health and overall wellbeing. Marshall Connects offers Emotional Intelligence Assessments and Coaching to enhance skill development in all areas, including self-management strategies like positive self-talk to improve overall productivity.

This article was originally published on April 29, 2017, and has been updated (January 2021).

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