The Benefits of Self-Compassion
When things go wrong it can be all too easy to focus on our flaws and imperfections, mistakenly believing that this will somehow motivate us to change. Yet when we compassionately respond to ourselves, we’re more likely to learn from our mistakes and proactively work on making changes.
Self-compassion involves showing kindness and understanding toward ourselves when we fail at something or when we’re suffering. It’s about treating ourselves as we would treat a close friend who is having a hard time — with empathy and acceptance.
With self-compassion we relate to ourselves, especially our struggles and failures, with consideration, sensitivity and benevolence. We recognize that everyone has flaws, makes mistakes and fails sometimes. Rather than being critical or judging ourselves harshly when we feel pain, we can recognize the negative effects of self-judgment and treat ourselves with care instead. This means that instead of continually punishing ourselves for not being good enough, our inner dialogue is gentle and encouraging.
So the next time you've made a mistake or are dealing with a difficult situation, pause, recognize you're in pain and offer yourself compassion. For example, if you are belittling yourself for something you did that you regret, instead of engaging in negative self-talk with phrases like, “I’m such an idiot” or “I’m a failure,” try to consider yourself as you are and telling yourself with compassion, “I’m okay.”
Self-compassion is essentially about treating yourself with love, which in turn promotes resilience and the courage to carry on following setbacks and failures. It also helps you gain a better perspective of your challenges and be less likely to feel isolated by them.
Self-Esteem vs Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is often confused with self-esteem, but it’s different. Self-esteem involves comparing yourself to others and needing to feel successful to prove your self-worth, whereas self-compassion is a gentle, nonjudgmental self-acceptance that embraces your own humanness and needs. Self-worth automatically increases with self-compassion.
My coaching clients often note increased self compassion and self worth from our work together and find that it raises their awareness of both possibilities and opportunities. If life is showing you a desire for more of these experiences, reach out to me and let's talk.
Dawn Nelson, MSW, CHT, CPC
Professional Coaching Services