To start the preparation process, it is important to be able to find room in our minds to be able to cut ourselves a bit of slack around how we occur to ourselves and how we occur to other people.

Also, not judging ourselves so harshly regarding our decision making. So often we get stuck in the idea that we should have perfect knowledge when actually it’s obvious that when dealing with the future, no one has perfect knowledge. By its definition, the future is unknowable.

We need to have a certain amount of compassion for self to enable some space in our minds for a possible future that’s different to the present or the past. This opens us to the idea that the thoughts that we’re having about ourselves, the beliefs that we’re holding onto, even if they’re subconscious, are not necessarily the truth.

It’s creating a little bit of space in your mind for other possibilities, for other perspectives, which is a good place to start. It’s about allowing for some flexibility around what you currently believe, not just ideas about self, but ideas about how things are. This is because many of our beliefs we hold to be true. There is a difference between what we believe and what is the truth, but frequently we think they are the same. Beliefs are malleable, but our minds can become so inflexible around beliefs that by holding onto them as if they are truths, we can miss out on the truths that are right in front of us. Think of self-compassion as a crowbar for your mind. It’s creating an opening for new ideas, new beliefs and a new way of perceiving the world.

This creates an opening in your mind for new thoughts. Thoughts that are different from the reactive and negative thoughts that so often enter your mind when something doesn’t work out or a decision you made didn’t play out the way you thought.

Instead of heading straight into self-flagellation, self-compassion creates a circuit breaker, a moment of pause, to allow for something else. This is one of the greatest benefits for having the capacity for self-compassion. There has been considerable research on self-compassion and it has many ancillary benefits.

People that are more self-compassionate tend to have greater life satisfaction, a sense of connectedness socially, stronger emotional intelligence and in large part, are generally happier and are less likely to exhibit depression or anxiety or burnout (Barnard and Curry, 2011; MacBeth and Gumley, 2012).

We all have these experiences at different times in our lives, but for those that are more self-compassionate, these experiences tend to be more fleeting.

In addition, self-compassion increases our resilience (Germer and Neff, 2013). Those that have more room for self-compassion in their minds tend to be able to flow with life’s punches a little easier and are more resilient in the face of bad news or negative events.

It also reduces the fear of failure (Neff, Hseih and Dejitterat, 2005; Neely et al., 2009). If you’re not beating yourself up all the time, then when you do fail at something, you’re more inclined to have a bit of a giggle, shrug it off, and then get back on with it. So, self-compassion in that context is important. It’s a pretty healthy tool to add to your emotional toolbox.