A teenage girl looking into the sunset and making a heart shape with the fingers of both hands.

We can all benefit from more self-compassion and it’s important to practice it from an early age so we have it when we need it most.

One of those times is during adolescence. The teenage years can be difficult as you’re hyper aware of the opinions of your friends and peers and, for the most part, would prefer to fit in rather than stand out.

As a result, there are times when you probably beat yourself up for what you think are mistakes or epic fails. But, here’s the thing. We all make mistakes and experience failure. It’s how we react to it that determines whether or not it will shape who we become.

That’s where self-compassion comes in.

What is self-compassion?

According to author Kristin Neff of the University of Texas, self-compassion is defined as: “a self-attitude that involves treating oneself with warmth and understanding in difficult times and recognising that making mistakes is part of being human.”

But self-compassion can be in short supply. As Neff, who has given a TED talk on the subject, said: “there’s almost no one whom we treat as badly as ourselves.”

The importance of self-compassion in teenage years

Research has shown that when you  treat yourself with self-compassion, you are happier and get along well with others.

You also have more confidence to try new things or to try again if things don’t work out as planned, take responsibility for your actions and develop increased resilience.

Research by author Karen Bluth also indicates that teens who embrace self-compassion are less anxious, stressed and depressed than those who have a harsh inner dialogue.

So how can you practise self-compassion?

  • Spend time with friends and family who love and accept you for who you are

  • Talk to your parents or another trusted adult when you’re feeling frustrated, disappointed or overwhelmed

  • Instead of beating yourself up when something goes wrong, take a minute or two to sit with your emotions. Feel the feeling, learn the lesson and then move forward with a hopeful and positive attitude

  • Speak to yourself in the exact same way that you speak to your best friend. When you become your biggest cheerleader, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world!

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