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We often hear about improving our self-esteem and self-confidence but how about self-compassion?
After doing my research about this, I realize that I am my own worst critic. I know it was not just me, it is common to everyone to judge themselves and say harsh things believing that this will help them to be more motivated.
But after researching about this, I realized it was all wrong.
Before that, let’s define what Self-compassion is. According to Merriam Webster, Compassion is;
“Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
This basically means that self-compassion is about being aware and conscious about your own negative situation or feelings and has this desire to uplift yourself. It was always like being a good friend to yourself. Remember no good friend will say worst thing to their friend when their friend feels down. This is far different from what we are doing, we are often the most mean and harsh people to ourselves.
According to Kristin Neffs, one of the most renowned experts when it comes to self-compassion, she perfectly put self-compassion this way:
“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, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect…”
WHY WE USUALLY CRITICIZE OURSELVES
The truth is we see self-criticism as something motivational for us to achieve our goals. It was like something that helps us to act on our situation and we often believe that self-compassion promotes laziness and complacency. But in reality, self-criticism do more harm that what we thought so with what it can help us.
According to njlifehacks.com;
“…self-criticism clearly does not create an environment that fosters peak performance. It lowers our all-important self-efficacy beliefs, infuses us with negative emotions of anxiety and depression, and leads to fear of failure, further paralyzing us, distracting us from the task at hand, and interfering with our ability to focus and do our best. This fear of failure also leads to self-handicapping, a form of self-sabotage intended to save our ego in case of failure. And lastly, self-criticism keeps us from improving on our weaknesses because we’re too afraid to admit them in the first place”
It may seem effective for others but in the long run it won’t do us any good. As mentioned above, it was like a self-sabotage for us. Now, why do you think self-compassion works better than being harsh with yourself?
ELEMENTS OF SELF-COMPASSION
Kristin Neffs, identified that there are 3 components for self-compassion:
“Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals…”
Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
When we try to deny this reality to ourselves we often feel the frustration and stress. On the other hand, when we start accepting this as reality, it allows us to recoil and become a lot better than before. This is like accepting who we are and our potential to be better than before rather blaming yourself for your mistakes.
2. Common Humanity
“…self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone…”
This is being open to the idea that we all have our own setbacks in life, and this is just normal for everyone. This is part of life that no one can escape. As we accept this reality that this is common for everyone, it eases the pain within and allows us to move forward.
“Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.”
With self-compassion we became mindful of our negative thoughts, it is not in the sense that we are rejecting these thoughts but more of accepting what we are currently experiencing and putting it into a bigger perspective. Looking at the bigger perspective allows us to see beyond our problems and focusing on different perspective of the situation rather than being reactive to our problems.
BENEFITS OF SELF COMPASSION
1. Triggers growth mindset
According to Harvard Business Review;
“One of the key requirements for self-improvement is having a realistic assessment of where we stand—of our strengths and our limitations. Convincing ourselves that we are better than we are leads to complacency, and thinking we’re worse than we are leads to defeatism.”
Growth mindset is one of the crucial characteristics for people to become better and successful. It allows us to evolve and be a better version of ourselves. But we won’t be able to have this mindset if we will constantly judge ourselves on what we can do and how we view ourselves.
When people treat themselves with compassion, they tend to have a more realistic assessment about themselves. This is one of the foundations for growing and self-improvement. Self-compassion gives yourself a genuine assessment and reason to keep going rather than pushing yourself down because of your mistakes.
2. Promotes authenticity
One of the reasons why some people become successful as compared with the others is because they were able to know themselves more and more, that leads to finding their own authenticity. They were able to discover and present themselves to the world based on who they are and not just based on what other people wanted to see.
“In recent research spearheaded by Jia Wei Zhang, we discovered that self-compassion cultivates authenticity by minimizing negative thoughts and self-doubts.”
Self-compassion minimizes how you negatively talked with yourself and reject those self-doubts. It creates a more uplifting perspective to yourself and allows you to see both your weakness and your strengths. In addition to this, authenticity allows others to see your genuineness and promotes a lasting relationships than those who focus on others’ opinion on how they will present themselves.
3. Builds resilience
As you are less likely to be depressed and significantly lessen the level of stress. Self-compassion allows you to be more open to committing mistakes and keeps you going no matter what happen. As we all know resilience is about someone’s ability to recover quickly from setbacks and their toughness.
Now, how compassionate you are to yourself? Why are you making it hard for yourself if you can do the other way around and have better impact to your life. Today, I challenge you to be nicer to yourself. I challenge you to treat yourself better than before. Be more compassionate about yourself and see how things become better.
Refer below for the readings that I had about self-compassion:
- 5 Steps to develop compassion & overcome your inner critic by Positive Psychology.com
- Give yourself a break: The Power of self-compassion by Harvard Business Review
- Why high achiever choose Self-compassion over Self-criticism by Njlifehacks
- How to overcome self-doubt?
- Mindsets that destroy your life
9 replies on “Why self-compassion matters?”
It’s so true. We tend to be our own worst critic.
Thanks for sharing, Elbert!
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Thanks Evan! We are all guilty of this! I guess because of all the “self-improvement-thing” around the internet, we tend to put too much burden to ourselves that we often forgot how to treat ourselves fairly.
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Sometimes I think I’m too self-compassionate to the extent of forgiving myself for not being on point in my daily tasks. But then there’s also the perspective of being hard on myself and disciplined in the name of self-compassion. I feel it’s all about perspective sometimes. Anyway, this was a well-written article!
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Hi Stuart, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I think you are totally right, there were these times that we are very forgiving with ourselves and other times that we are too hard. I guess perspective really comes into play, but I also believe that we can always choose which one to practice and make as our habit. Great comment! It made me think about it deeper. I need to consider this! Watch for the updates! Lol.
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