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To Endure: Embracing Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion

Webster’s dictionary defines endurance as “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity.”

When experiencing stress, the first thing to consider is what personal strengths might be most useful. Self-awareness and self-compassion are two important strengths for coping during stressful times. 

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions. For example, being aware that you are getting frustrated before someone else mentions it. Self-awareness allows you to better manage your emotions and understand where they are coming from. It is about being honest with oneself in terms of personal strengths and being realistic about personal growth. It may also require consideration to what areas in your life can use improvement to turn possible liabilities into strengths.

Self-compassion requires awareness of one’s own self-judgments and some kindness with personal thinking. Do you have unrealistic standards for yourself? Do you beat yourself down when making a bad call? Give yourself the grace you would give others who were going through something similar. Be aware of personal thoughts and give yourself some room when going through a difficult moment instead of ignoring the pain or judging or criticizing yourself.

To increase self-awareness and self-compassion try these two activities:

  1. Reflect and write about past experiences. Many learn a lot about themselves by identifying how their past influences who they are and their behaviors. Think about your thoughts, emotions, and what you needed in that moment.
  2. Think of a difficult moment that you have gone through or are going through or perhaps a mistake made. Develop a positive phrase to combat excessive self-criticism. Make sure it is something that feels believable to you. For example, rather than “I can’t believe I did that,” try “well, I guess I’ll know better for next time.” Say this phrase as often as needed and notice how it changes your feeling about a situation.

“We must view asking for help as a normal, smart decision, not a sign of weakness.”

– General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps

Marines, Sailors, and their families may access help directly through the Community Counseling Program. Additional resources are available at

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