It's no surprise that anxiety and depression are on the rise. Now more than ever, life isn't easy, and many of us are dealing with loss, discouragement, and stress. We all face disappointment and failure at some point because we are human. We may respond to these obstacles with negative feelings of self-criticism or self-blame, which doesn't help. The solution is self-compassion. We can learn to treat ourselves with the same emotional support and loving kindness that we would offer to others.
What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion embodies concepts from Hindu, Buddhist, and other traditions. It means treating yourself with the same type of kindness and understanding you would show to someone you cared about. Most of us tend to be very hard on ourselves. However, self-compassion is not about telling ourselves that we are better than other people. Rather it is about accepting ourselves as fallible human beings, deserving of sympathy.
What are the basic components of self-compassion?
When we make mistakes or fail despite our best efforts, we may be cold and judgmental toward ourselves. The key to self-compassion is simply being kind to yourself.
The constant stream of social media often makes us feel inadequate. Everywhere we look, there are pictures and comments about other people's promotions, perfect homes, amazing children, and even their superb meals. In contrast, we look at our less-than-satisfying jobs, messy homes, imperfect children, and frozen pizza for dinner and all we see is a failure. However, the reality is that imperfection is the human experience. Once you accept and forgive your own flaws, it is easier to connect on a deeper level with others.
Another essential component is mindfulness, which means focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. If you are feeling bad about something, you may have a tendency to ignore your feelings or try to control them through business or problem-solving. While you are occupied with suppressing your feelings or making to-do lists, you are not giving yourself compassion.
Why do we have trouble practicing self-compassion?
Society values compassion for other people. We are taught to be kind and supportive towards friends, family members, and others in need. When it comes to ourselves, compassion may be sadly lacking. Most of us have an inner voice that is judgmental or self-critical.
- Childhood. This voice may have come from parents or other authority figures. Most parents have good intentions and think that criticizing and pushing a child harder helps them succeed, but instead, it can be damaging.
- Society. From school right through careers and adulthood, society is judgmental and critical. Children learn that their self-worth is based on their achievements. Acceptance by peers is more about fitting in than about being yourself.
People believe that they must be self-critical in order to be motivated and succeed in life. However, being hard on yourself drains your mental and emotional energy. Studies show that self-criticism is related to depression. The only motivation is to undervalue yourself and avoid failure whenever possible.
Benefits of self-compassion
There are many benefits to self-compassion, such as:
- More likely to take responsibility for their actions, rather than place the blame on others.
- More likely to study more after a disappointing result.
- more connected to others. Always comparing yourself unfavorably with other people actually disconnects you from others.
- more resilient in times of adversity.
Fundamentally, self-esteem and self-compassion both involve positive emotions. But self-esteem is based on a positive judgment about yourself or your performance.
Self-compassion is not about judgment or evaluation. It allows us to treat ourselves with compassion, even when we fail.
How can you nurture self-compassion?
Treat yourself with the same sympathy you would use for another person, such as a child. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Be mindful of your inner critical voice. If you need help, consult a coach who is experienced in self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. You're worth it. For more information, contact us.