Self-compassion doesn’t have to be elaborate

Casey Griffith, Opinion Editor

Whether Mercury is in retrograde, you’re experiencing the winter blues or it’s just “one of those days,” it’s easy to let your circumstances get you down. We all feel down or unlucky sometimes, and while there’s no preventing the occasional funk, there are some things you can do and some things you can remind yourself of in order to make your headspace and environment a more positive place; that way it’s easier to get out of those funks and live a happier life.

1. You are not responsible for forgiving someone who has hurt you.
Our culture has told us from day one that forgiveness is the right thing, and that you can’t find peace in a situation where you’ve been hurt until you forgive whoever hurt you. I beg to differ. If forgiving will bring you peace, by all means, do it. However, remember that no one, not even family, is entitled to your forgiveness for deeply hurting you. It is okay to feel hurt, and you are not responsible for accepting an apology, especially if it won’t bring you peace.

2. Look for the grey.
When you’re in a bad mood, nothing sounds more patronizing than someone telling you to “just look for the positive!” Not everything is black and white, although it’s hard to think that way sometimes. Having to look for joy when everything seems dreary is exhausting and can make you feel more hopeless if something doesn’t show up immediately. It’s a lot easier to look for things that aren’t bad. They don’t have to be “good,” they just have to be neutral. This is a good way to remind oneself that even if positivity isn’t smacking you in the face with its presence, not everything is bad all of the time.

3. Write yourself notes for when you’re not doing well.
This one is a double whammy. By writing yourself a positive note while you’re feeling well, you simultaneously reaffirm your good mood and help yourself out for when you’re in a bad mood. There are a lot of ways to write these notes; they could take the form of a letter to yourself, writing down a positive memory or experience to look back on or even drawing yourself something that will make you laugh later on. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; even the smallest of things can help you see a light at the end of the tunnel when you’re not doing well.

4. Celebrate even the smallest victories.
Remember that you have so many people who are rooting you on. At the same time, remember that no one’s encouragement will feel the same as your own. If you practice taking pride in your accomplishments, even the smallest ones, you can strengthen your sense of self-compassion and break things up into more manageable pieces so that things don’t seem so overwhelming. In the words of Morgan Harper Nichols, “there is no shame in being proud of the smallest amount of progress.”

None of these things are instant cures for not feeling like yourself, nor will they entirely prevent those kinds of days from happening, but they are some of the small steps you can take to be kind to yourself so that when “those kinds of days” roll around, they’re easier to get through.