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How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Feel Like You Can’t

Here’s a not-so surprising thing about self-compassion: It’s really hard to practice it when you don’t like yourself very much.

But, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, you don’t need to wait to love yourself to treat yourself well. So you can simply start right now. You can think of your small acts as part of an adventure, or an experiment.

There doesn’t need to be a big, dramatic change. You don’t need to suddenly be head over heels about yourself and who you are. You don’t need to try to love yourself unconditionally or even focus on liking yourself. You don’t need to change something about yourself—like your weight or eating habits—to finally earn some kindness.

You can simply start acting in self-compassionate ways. Below, you’ll find a variety of examples to consider. As you’re reading through them, jot down any ideas that come up for you, and give those a try, too. Let these kinds of question guide your steps: If I liked myself, what would I do? If I felt comfortable in my own skin, how would I act? How would I care for myself if I felt a deep inner contentment and comfort in being me? What would my days look like? How would I like to connect to myself if I could?

  • Work with a therapist or a coach. Or take an e-course that contributes to your well-being in some profound way. Getting support from someone else is one of the kindest, most powerful things we can do.
  • Sit down for 20 minutes somewhere comfortable (inside or outside), and do nothing. Or read a book you’ve been wanting to read (but haven’t because you didn’t get through your entire task list). Or listen to some beautiful music. Or savor your surroundings with your senses.
  • Put on your headphones along with your favorite music, and jot down your response to this question: How am I feeling right now? Don’t censor yourself. Just write whatever comes.
  • Make a space in your home into a space that you love.
  • Do something that makes you happy in the mornings: Read a poem. Dance. Take a yoga class. Cook breakfast. Take a long, hot shower. Sleep in. Watch the sunrise. Paint. Play with your daughter.
  • Tell yourself the truth about something that’s been bothering you, or share this with someone else.
  • Tell yourself that you’re not alone. Someone else is struggling with the same thing that you’re struggling with right this second. Yes, this second. Because, after all, you are human. And we are more alike than we are different.
  • Carve out 10 minutes every day or on most days to work on a project you’ve been wanting to work on for months.
  • Skip the drink. If you normally have a drink once a night, skip a few nights. If you normally drink on Saturdays when out with your friends, go out, but forget the drinks. What happens when you don’t have a single sip of alcohol? How does it feel? What thoughts pop up?
  • Ask yourself: What can I let go of right now? Because you no longer need it. Because it no longer serves you.
  • Listen to a guided meditation every day. Tara Brach’s website has a slew of meditations to try.
  • Practice this restorative yoga pose every night. Or find another pose or stretch or movement that feels like taking an extra deep, calming, wonderful breath.

Maybe you already do some of these things. Maybe you don’t. Either way, remember that you don’t have to change your mind about yourself (yet) in order to do things that make you feel happy, nourished, and at peace.

You can do them right now—no points, pounds lost, or checked tasks required.

Photo by on Unsplash

How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Feel Like You Can’t

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2019). How to Be Kind to Yourself When You Feel Like You Can’t. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 May 2019
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