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I often talk about how important it is to be kind to yourself and a recent article in the New York Times presents some research that supports this claim. The article, by Tara Parker-Pope, speaks of this ?burgeoning new area of psychological research called self-compassion ? how kindly people view themselves.? Research indicates that those who are more compassionate towards themselves ?have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.?

Through my Life-Coaching business, I meet many people that are unhappy, and sometimes experience depression or anxiety. Often times, these people are so focused on taking care of others that they neglect taking care of themselves. Some might even feel guilty when they finally take time for themselves.

Why is it so hard for people to treat themselves as well as they treat others?

The problem is that we confuse self-pity with self-compassion.

We live in a culture that pushes us all the time to be perfect, to do better, and to work harder. Self-compassion is mistakenly seen as a sign of weakness.

Self-compassion is just being kind, gentle and loving towards yourself. If you were able to treat yourself like you treat others, you would not criticize yourself, you would say: ?It’s ok, I’m a human being, and I’m not perfect? in the face of difficulties.

Dr. Kristin Neff, of the University of Texas at Austin has encountered this problem in her research: ?I found ? that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they?ll become self-indulgent ? Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.?

So how do we change this? Here are some tips to get you started:

This week work to become aware of the way you treat yourself in comparison to others. Notice your thoughts, emotions and attitude towards yourself. Come back and read next week?s blog ?Practical Guide for Self-Compassion? for simple tools to take it to the next level. Awareness is the first step.

Until next week, here is a simple affirmation, presented by Stuart Smalley from ?Saturday Night Live?: