I consider myself to be a very compassionate person, but I’ve struggled a great deal with self-compassion. Though I’ve now been sober for over six years, back when I was drinking I made a lot of mistakes, and it’s taken me a long time to have empathy and understanding for myself.

While drinking, I did and said a lot of things that made me feel ashamed and unhappy. When I drank, one of my go-to moves was giving into a sudden, intense desire to leave (or attempt to leave) a bar or party.

Sometimes this was a mere inconvenience—I left friends behind as I hopped into a cab solo or dragged them with me, convincing them the night was no longer fun and we should leave—but oftentimes it was downright dangerous.

I hazily remember a night I simply left the bar and, realizing I couldn’t make it home in my inebriated state, decided to lie down in the middle of a city sidewalk. (This sounds comical, but it was not at all funny to those who found me or to the loved ones who had to negotiate with me to get me off the ground.)

While sobriety isn’t for everyone, the notion of using compassion to make more positive life choices applies to all of us. We all do and say things we feel ashamed of. And, because of that, we all need to compassionately care for ourselves in order to fully heal from our mistakes. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to cultivate self-compassion:

  • 1. Transform your mindset.
  • 2. Speak (and think!) kindly about yourself.
  • 3. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  • 4. Spend time doing things you truly enjoy.
  • 5. Strive to avoid judgments and assumptions.
  • 6. Find common ground with others.
  • 7. Take care of your mind and your body.
  • 8. Pay attention to where your passion lies.
  • 9. Realize it’s not all about you.
  • 10. Cultivate acceptance (even for your flaws).