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Chasing the Dream: Self-compassion helps you do more

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Have compassion... for yourself

Studies say those with self-compassion achieve more and accomplish more goals. Harness your own compassion for yourself in parenting, life and all your aspirations.

Jennifer Gaddis, creator of the site HeelsandJeans.com, was recently in a conference with her 9-year-old's teacher. Her son wasn't doing well in class. After the conference, she mentally beat herself up for not doing enough to help him — which just made everything worse.

She was lacking compassion for herself. "Finally I sat down and I thought, how can we make it better? To harness compassion for one's self, you must — and always — stop blaming yourself. Ask yourself how can you make it better? Tomorrow will be a new day," says Gaddis.

Experts say that self-compassion, a challenging goal, is important to achieving your goals since it allows you to roll with the punches and move ahead.

"My theory is this: Women are raised to constantly compare ourselves to something other than what we are — everything from how we look to our jobs, our parenting, our marriage, our 'success.' It's always about looking out, around us, and then never living up to that perceived better standard," says Sara DiVello, a registered yoga teacher who is certified with the Yoga Alliance. "The result is a combination of constant comparison which creates co-morbid anxiety — women are stressed about how they don't measure up and are also in a state of constant mental activity (anxiety) from all this comparing."

Gaining perspective

So, how do you de-stress and allow yourself that necessary self-compassion? DiVello suggests taking a step back. "Take a moment to sit down. Often, we're stressed but we don't take the time to sit down and deal with it — instead, we continue rushing around, absentmindedly stressing about how stressed we are... which only escalates our stress," says DiVello.

Then, give yourself a chance to focus. Think of what's stressing you out and take a deep breath. Exhale (extending it longer than your inhale) and flick your hands as though you're trying to get something off of them (you are — the stress!). Also known as the 'there's no paper towels in the restroom flick.' Repeat three to five times. Now, settle into extended exhale breathing (as described above) with the eyes closed for three to five minutes," says DiVello.

And guess what? I tried this... it really does help.

Achieving your goals

Having self-compassion makes embracing failure — the necessary things that we can all learn from — useful tools in our quests to reach our dreams. And as daunting as it may seem to skip the self-berating and learn from our mistakes, it is key to achieving your goals. "Self-compassion is kindness toward yourself and your mistakes. It helps you get up from failure, survive a divorce and be more joyful in the present. Yes, it can also help you be a better parent because you will have compassion for your kids when they make mistakes," says Maryann Reid, lifestyle expert at www.alphanista.com.

Start with small changes that begin to free yourself from the negative talk that holds you back, says Kathryn Vercillo, author of Crochet Saved My Life. "It can be daunting to try to change that negative self-talk in those large areas of life since they are so ingrained into the way that we think. By starting small, in just one area like crafting, we can begin to learn to nip that negativity in the bud," says Vercillo.

For Vercillo, that's meant crocheting with abandon — and not taking a negative tone with the results. What will it mean for you?

More from Chasing the Dream

Managing your priorities
Why you need a mentor — and how to find one

How Jaden Hair achieved her dreams

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