Self-compassion is the single most important life skill that we can possess.
However, the topic of self-compassion is one that promotes misgivings and misconceptions. Our culture sometimes views self-compassion as a means to make excuses for less than exemplary behavior. For example, if we take an exam and get a C instead of an A, we’re supposed to be somewhat upset rather than viewing the C as acceptable.
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.
Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion researcher, has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components – self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Geneen Roth, author and consultant on eating disorders, states “For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love.”
Having self-compassion means to honor and accept your own humanness
and accept that in life, you will encounter a number of unfortunate circumstances, sometimes where you’re the one at fault.
Self-compassion is having grace for oneself.
People with self-compassion:
- Procrastinate less.
Compared to those who try to use guilt, shame, or fear as motivators to complete a project or goal, the ones who practice self-compassion are the ones who spend less time dragging their feet when it comes time to perform a task.
Re-engage after failure.
Those who are accepting and caring towards themselves after a perceived or real failure will be much more likely to “get back on the horse” and keep going.
- Take on more accountability.
Contrary to what some might assume, self-compassion does not relieve someone of their ownership of a problem; rather, self-compassion actually serves to assist someone in being able to make a more realistic assessment of the role they played in problem process.
- Are open to feedback.
Those who are more compassionate with themselves will not crumble if they receive feedback from others. This is because those who practice self-compassion know they have inherent value and abilities to recover— even if the feedback is not positive.
“Be gentle first with yourself if you wish to be gentle with others.” Lama Yeshe
Self-compassion creates a caring space within you that is free of judgment—a place that sees your hurt and your failures and softens to allow those experiences with kindness and caring.
For many of us, self-compassion is a brand new concept.
It is not something that is usually modeled or taught in our childhood or even in our adult lives.
When our inner voice continually criticizes and berates us we end up feeling worthless, incompetent and insecure, and we often end up in negative cycles of self-sabotage and self-harm. However, when our inner voice plays the role of a supportive friend we can – when we notice some personal failing – feel safe and accepted enough to both see ourselves clearly and make the changes needed for us to be healthier and happier.
Self-Compassion is being kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings, honoring and accepting your humanness: comprised of self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.
Self- compassion is valuing one’s own pursuit of happiness and aversion towards suffering, and behaving in accordance with those values.
Self-Compassion is NOT self-indulgence, feeling sorry for the self, or self-pity. Self-compassion is a major component of learning to genuinely appreciate yourself which is part of the path to happiness.