How To Compensate For The Lack of Face-To-Face Contact

Hint: your own face counts, too

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Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Becoming Your Own Best Friend

Many of us go about our days without any real awareness of how we’re feeling. I know I often lack it — unless I make an intentional move to awaken it.

Why Are You So Harsh On Yourself?

The big reason it’s hard to elicit self-compassion is the harsh inner critic. Have you noticed that it’s harder to be compassionate to yourself than to others? This is due to a few reasons:

  • Our cultural background — currently, Western culture teaches us to base our worth on external achievements. Our sense of self-worth is therefore conditional. When we’re children, it depends on the approval of our parents, teachers and peers. When we grow up, we may tie our self-esteem to how we’re doing at work or in the dating arena. This is a perfect ground for the inner critic to thrive because it can always find an aspect of life where we’re “falling behind.”
  • Interacting through social media — social media isn’t inherently “bad.” It’s just a communication tool. But when we enter important, emotional interactions via digital channels, we may fail to find compassion for the person on the other side of the screen. Not seeing their face limits our ability to perceive their emotions. And because compassion to ourselves is closely related to those for others, we may struggle to be kind to ourselves, too.

How To Work With The Mirror To Compensate For The Lack of Face-To-Face Contact

Seeing yourself in the mirror helps with self-compassion because, as Tara Well put it, it helps “externalize the inner critic.” You’re no longer just an author of the harsh criticism — you’re also its victim.

  1. Make an intention for the practice. Decide to be accepting of your image in the mirror, as well as of all the thoughts and feelings that may arise in the process.
  2. Open your eyes and look at your reflection. You may notice some initial reactions, like looking for imperfections in your face or trying to turn your better profile towards the mirror. It’s okay to have those impulses — but remember, you don’t have to act on them.
  3. Keep following your breath as an anchor to the present moment. Become aware of the thoughts and feelings that come. If there’s self-criticism, don’t despise it — welcome it as an opportunity. This is your chance to become aware of how hard you can be on yourself.
  4. See if you can look at your reflection as if you were looking at a friend. Compassion may arise naturally at this point. However, no need to force it if it doesn’t.
  5. If it feels right, you can quietly say some affirmations or reassuring sentences to yourself. Think about what you’d like to hear from your best friend. The sentences I often use include “I love you,” “I’m here for you, no matter what,” “You’re beautiful, wise and strong,” “You’ll be fine, no matter what.”
  6. After you say (or not) the affirmations, you can still spend a few quiet moments just being with yourself. When you feel like you want to finish, thank yourself for the practice and put the mirror away.

When You Can’t See Others, Take Time To See Yourself

In our lives, we’re often so focused on other people that we don’t take the time to look at ourselves. When our days are full of interactions, we may lose touch with how we feel and what we think.

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What if you stopped treating your ego as the enemy and befriended it instead? To find out, read my new book, Ego-Friendly:

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