As the school year wraps up and the activities of the spring come to a close, its time to kick back and focus on nurturing yourself. Learning how to be more compassionate with yourself isn’t something that most of us do very easily. When I talk to people I am aware of how we tend to be more judging rather than affirming with ourselves. It’s a time to relax with more time possibly to refocus and kick back a little from a busy schedule.

Do you spend time giving to yourself-cultivating a relationship with yourself? Many of us have work-related responsibilities, aging parents, and constant obligations with children that keep us on a perpetual cycle of busyness. Today’s world is filled with distractions. I am the first to admit that when I am determined to spend some quiet time with myself a text comes in, or my computer is calling me to return an email or the phone rings. Today was a perfect example. I had every intention of spending some quiet time meditating, reading, and in prayer, but the tyranny of the urgent things took over.

Deciding what things you may want to focus on this summer may be valuable. You might want to think about doing a juice cleanse to have a healthier body. Or do some long-awaited journaling discovering what emotions are plaguing you that you need to let go of? Or maybe you take up a new hobby or athletic outdoor activity. Most importantly, learning to be a friend to yourself.

One of the ways we can develop a relationship with ourselves can be learning to be more self-compassionate. In my book Lost & Restored I referenced Dr. Kristen Neff who is a researcher in the area of self-compassion. She has a site where she offers a self-compassion assessment along with other great resources. Her definition of self-compassion is: “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

Self-compassion means not judging ourselves harshly when we fail to meet the standards we have placed on ourselves. Failing is many times interpreted as bad in our minds rather than something we can learn from. We might consider how we tend to speak to a child when they are hurt. Can we give that same kind of compassion to ourselves? Usually, I find that can be difficult.

It starts with listening to that dialogue within that is constantly making assumptions. Making judgments about how we acted or responded to situations or tasks that have not turned out according to our image is where we get stuck. Another author I like, Brene´ Brown, wrote a great book titled The Gift of Imperfection. I would recommend that for anyone who is struggling with being perfect all the time.

Usually, those that are a perfectionist with themselves have a shame base that continually tells them they aren’t good enough. Creating an outward veneer of perfection can camouflage all of the negative things they don’t want to see in themselves.

It’s valuable to take time to develop that relationship with yourselves so you can fill up your love tank and be more able to pour out an overflow into other’s lives.

Here’s to a summer of giving to yourself!