One of the most important elements of self-compassion is the recognition of our shared humanity. Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means “to suffer with,” which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect, that we are all fallible. […]
Sometimes it’s more difficult to see what’s right about ourselves than what’s wrong. For some of us even thinking about our positive traits makes us uncomfortable. Praise and compliments can make us squirm, and we often don’t know how to respond without self-consciousness. Flattery feels a lot better than insults, of course, but how many […]
A common stumbling block when thinking about self-compassion is the belief that it just means letting ourselves off the hook. When we say “it’s only human,” isn’t this just a way to blow off personal responsibility for our actions? But let’s look at this more closely. First of all, isn’t it strange that admitting the […]
For the past decade or so I’ve been conducting research on self-compassion, and have found that people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed, and are much more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about their future. In short, they have better mental health. The power […]
We know how much it hurts. “I’m an idiot!” “I’m disgusting.” “No one will ever love me.” “What a lame-ass.” So why do we do it? As soon as we ask ourselves this question, we often just pile on more self-criticism. “I’m such a bitch, even to myself.” “That’s why I’m such a loser, I’m […]
Many of us are caregivers, whether we have a special-needs child, a parent with Alzheimer’s, an ill partner, or are in a caregiving profession such as being a nurse, therapist, or teacher. When the stress of continually being there for others is high, we can become overwhelmed by our caregiving responsibilities and run the risk […]
In my work I have defined self-compassion as having three main interacting components: self-kindness, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental. Instead of taking a cold “stiff-upper-lip” approach in times of suffering, self-kindness offers soothing and […]
One of the most insidious consequences of the self-esteem movement over the last couple of decades is the narcissism epidemic. Self-esteem has also been linked to aggression, prejudice and anger towards those who threaten our sense of self-worth.
The number-one reason people give for why they aren’t more self-compassionate is the fear that they will be too easy on themselves. Without constant self-criticism to spur myself on, people worry, won’t I just skip work, eat three tubs of ice cream and watch Oprah reruns all day? In others words, isn’t self-compassion really the […]
Think of all the generous, kind people you know who constantly give compassion and care to others, yet continually beat themselves up. Most of us are quite practiced at being supportive and giving to others, especially those of us who find ourselves in caregiver roles. Whether we have a special needs child, a parent with […]
The golden rule tells us that we should treat others as we would want them to treat us. Maybe so, but hopefully we won’t treat them even half as badly as we treat ourselves. “You’re so lame!” “What a screw-up!” “How can you ever show your face in public again?” Would you talk this way […]
When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I study self-compassion, they often get a hesitant expression on their face. I guess self-compassion is a good idea, they say, but can’t you be too self-compassionate? In fact, the number one reason people give for why they aren’t more self-compassionate is that […]
At the same time that we try to see ourselves as better than others, we also tend to eviscerate ourselves with self-criticism when we don’t meet our high standards. As soon as our feelings of superiority slip — as they inevitably will — our sense of worthiness takes a nose dive. We swing wildly between overly inflated and overly deflated self-esteem, an emotional roller coaster ride whose end result is often insecurity, anxiety and depression.
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 when we notice some personal failing, we feel safe and accepted enough to both see ourselves clearly and make needed changes.