Thursday, 9 February 2012

Self-compassion=The opposite of being selfish

Although last week's post was about what mindful speaking might look like, alert readers pointed out that my using the term "personal failure" was harsh at best, and they are correct. 
So what does it mean to be so self-critical? Is it possible that there is a direct connection between self-criticism/self harshness and judging others? 
I think so. 

Maybe I need to re-read the textbook chapter on "professional self care" that I co-wrote where i say that "Care of others begins with caring for ourselves".
If we are harsh with ourselves and self judge  then why should we expect to be able to be open and non-judgmental of others?
If we cannot laugh at our own foibles and little failures then do we really expect that we can do the same for others?
Wouldn't it be the wiser path to practice being compassionate with the one person we are always around?
Why not be kind to ourselves as a way to practice being kind to others?

Self compassion is not the same as self esteem as outlined by this quote taken from the website of Kristen Neff  - her website is a great resource - You can even take a self-compassion quiz to see how you score for yourself! (From Kristin Neff's website -

"Although self-compassion may seem similar to self-esteem, they are different in many ways.  Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves. While there is little doubt that low self-esteem is problematic and often leads to depression and lack of motivation, trying to have higher self-esteem can also be problematic.  In modern Western culture, self-esteem is often based on how much we are different from others, how much we stand out or are special.  It is not okay to be average, we have to feel above average to feel good about ourselves.  This means that attempts to raise self-esteem may result in narcissistic, self-absorbed behavior, or lead us to put others down in order to feel better about ourselves.  We also tend to get angry and aggressive towards those who have said or done anything that potentially makes us feel bad about ourselves.  The need for high self-esteem may encourage us to ignore, distort or hide personal shortcomings so that we can’t see ourselves clearly and accurately. Finally, our self-esteem is often contingent on our latest success or failure, meaning that our self-esteem fluctuates depending on ever-changing circumstances.

In contrast to self-esteem, self-compassion is not based on self-evaluations. People feel compassion for themselves because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits (pretty, smart, talented, and so on). This means that with self-compassion, you don’t have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself.  Self-compassion also allows for greater self-clarity, because personal failings can be acknowledged with kindness and do not need to be hidden. Moreover, self-compassion isn’t dependent on external circumstances, it’s always available – especially when you fall flat on your face!  Research indicates that in comparison to self-esteem, self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger."

Be well,


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