Since childhood, we are taught to be compassionate towards others. We are told to build empathy and feel others’ pain as if it were our sufferings. Also, we are told to go out of our way to help the person in need. However, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. Being compassionate is like putting a human face on suffering.
There is a larger concept to compassion that is often ignored or misunderstood. It is called “self-compassion.” With the power of self-compassion, we are able to give ourselves the same kindness, love and care that we’d give to a person in need.
Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure or general suffering. Kristin Neff has defined self-compassion as being composed of three main components: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Research indicates that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health than those who lack self-compassion. For example, self-compassion is positively associated with life satisfaction, wisdom, happiness, optimism, curiosity, learning goals, social connectedness, personal responsibility and emotional resilience. At the same time, it is associated with a lower tendency for self-criticism, depression, anxiety, rumination, thought suppression, perfectionism and disordered eating attitudes.
Self-compassion is not self-esteem, self-pity or self-indulgence. It is to meet and understand your inner-self and stop self-criticizing. Often self-compassion is misinterpreted as keeping our wishes over the welfare and wellbeing of others. Our inner self has often two sides: one that motivates us, and the other which is highly self-critical. Our goal should be to strike a balance between two sides.
There are so many psychological and mental health benefits of self-compassion that are proved many times with various researches.
The best way to be self-compassionate is to deal with our own issues as we would deal with the issues of our closest ones. Be friends be yourself:
To engage in the art of self-compassion, you have to take out some time for yourself and recognize your emotions. This is sometimes difficult, but therapy and coaching can help in understanding your emotions and what may trigger them. You can learn to lift your own spirits and to believe in yourself. Instead of encouraging your inner critic, you can become your inner advocate. Your relationship with yourself is the only relationship you have at the start of your life until the end, so make most of it.