How Do I Develop Self-Compassion?

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Updated Feb 19, 2024
How Do I Develop Self-Compassion?

When you see yourself as God does, you can stop being so hard on yourself.

Ever since I was a preteen, I had difficulty with cultivating self-compassion. Due to intensive self-hate and loved ones saying terrible things to me, I had a hard time liking myself. This has continued into my adult years and is something that therapy was not able to fix. If you have self-hatred and strongly dislike yourself, it can be hard to develop self-love. While self-love can be much more difficult to obtain, a better goal is to try to work on cultivating self-compassion. 

If anyone has made you feel as though you don’t matter or that you are not valued, my heart goes out to you. For those of us who grew up with hate inflicted on us, it is hard to feel like we matter even in our adult years. We grow older; however, the pain of the past is still woven deep into our veins. No matter how old you are or how many years you have struggled with self-hate, know that it is never too late to develop self-compassion at any stage of life. 

Seeing Yourself as God Does

When you start trying to cultivate self-compassion, you need to turn to God. Ask Him to help you see yourself as He does. This is a prayer I have prayed many times and little by little, God has helped me in this area. We are trained from a young age that our worth is tied to our appearance, weight, and success. If we cannot meet the standards of the world, others treat us badly and we treat ourselves badly. To start developing self-compassion, we have to rid ourselves of this kind of thought.

Instead, we must actively try to see ourselves as God sees us. Our worth is not found in our appearance, weight, or success. Our worth is found in Christ alone. The Lord tells us we are beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). He did not make a mistake when He made you. You are beautiful just as you are and you deserve every good thing. When you see yourself as God does, you can stop being so hard on yourself. You will stop seeing yourself as an eyesore and start seeing yourself as a beautiful child of God. 

Whenever the world, a person, or even yourself starts trying to say mean things about you, talk back to it. You do not need to allow these hurtful thoughts and comments to bring you down. They are not worth your time. The world is under the control of the devil, which means the world will continue to advocate for things that are not biblical. You are worthy of self-compassion and you are worthy of having a beautiful life. Do not allow the world, others, or yourself to make you think otherwise.  

Healing from the Past

It is also noteworthy to mention that you cannot develop self-compassion without healing from the past. While you might not be able to completely heal from every hurt, it is possible to heal enough to be able to start cultivating self-compassion for yourself. Much of the hate we have for ourselves was taught. In other words, it's a learned behavior. Nobody wakes up one day just hating themselves. Rather, self-hate takes years to develop, and often, it can take years to heal from.

Think about the messages that were sent to you as a kid, preteen, and teenager. Maybe your mother told you that you weren’t good enough, your sibling told you that you looked terrible with your hair a certain way, or your teacher told you that your artwork was no good. All of these things can cause us to start hating ourselves. We feel we aren’t good enough since those around us are reinforcing this very idea. Once we see where these messages started, we can be better at pruning them out of our lives and replacing them with self-compassion.

For those of us who struggle with self-compassion, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves. It is much more common for us to beat ourselves up over little matters or if we didn’t do something “just right.” In order to heal from this type of thinking, we have to stop the train in its tracks and turn it around. Each time a self-critical thought comes into our heads, we need to replace it with the truth of the Bible. Wounds from the past can hurt us, but God can bind up our wounds (Psalm 147:3). 

The Journey to Self-Compassion 

Once we start seeing ourselves as God does and we are actively healing from the past, we will be on our journey of self-compassion. It will not happen overnight; however, with time, prayer, and effort, you will be able to be more compassionate toward yourself. Being compassionate to yourself means extending grace to yourself, to know it is okay to mess up, and to know that you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, none of us are perfect; therefore, perfection is an impossible goal. Only God is perfect (Mark 10:18). 

The more you work on self-compassion, the better you will get at it. I have been working on self-compassion for a few years now and I still have not achieved it. Therefore, do not be discouraged if your self-compassion doesn’t develop overnight. Things such as this take time and should not be rushed. Try to make it a priority to be kinder to yourself and to extend grace to yourself. In other words, treat yourself as you would treat a friend. None of us would say the hurtful things we say to ourselves to our friends.

Rather, we are kind to our friends and we think the best of them. In the same way, we need to be kind to ourselves and stop thinking the worst of ourselves. God loves us and He wants us to take good care of ourselves. If we continue on the course of self-hate, we will only encounter more problems. Self-hate is of no benefit to you and will only destroy you. As someone who chronically struggles with self-hate, it makes your life miserable and can manifest in eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

It is not your fault that you struggle with being compassionate to yourself, but it is within your power and ability to start being more caring to yourself today. Try practicing self-compassion today in small ways. As an example, you might mess up on a work assignment. Instead of saying, “I’m so stupid. I can’t do anything right,” tell yourself, “I am capable of doing a good job, and I do many things right.” By changing the narrative, you will help yourself in many ways. 

It will be a journey, but it will pay off in the end. God wants you to be compassionate to yourself. He does not want you to tear yourself down nor does He want you to hate yourself. You are His beloved child and He says you are completely worthy through His Son. Try to replace all of the mean things you have heard with what God says. Everything God says is true, including that you are beautiful and dearly loved (Song of Solomon 4:7; 1 John 4:10). Remember these truths as you are working on developing self-compassion. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Milko

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.