Today is Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, which serves as a reminder to the fact that we don’t need to stress over all the little mistakes in our past. How do we give ourselves a break and move past those times when we mess up on our journey to health? The answer lies in self-compassion.
What is self-compassion? Dr. Kristin Neff, Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin and pioneer in the research of self-compassion, states that it consists of three key components during times of personal suffering and failure:
- Treating oneself kindly
- Recognizing one’s struggles as part of the shared human experience
- Holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness
This means that when we make a mistake, make an unhealthy choice, or fall off the wagon, we should treat ourselves kindly instead of beating ourselves up. Mistakes are just part of being human. We shouldn’t try to fight against or distract ourselves from our negative thoughts and feelings but instead acknowledge these experiences without becoming attached to them.
If we are able to treat ourselves with self-compassion in the face of failure, research has shown, those feelings of safety and interconnectedness will increase, and feelings of threat and isolation will decrease. In other words, self-compassion fosters greater emotional balance and well-being. If we are more even-keeled, more comfortable, and happier, then we’re able to make healthier choices. Self-compassion makes it easier for us to achieve our health goals.
So the next time you go off track, don’t cry over spilled milk! Instead, notice your thoughts and feelings without getting wrapped up in them, recognize that you are human, and—above all else—be kind to yourself!