April 21, 2021
Self-Compassion is a difficult concept to grasp.
It might be an idea to attempt to tell you what isn’t self-compassion.
Self-compassion is different from self-pity.
Self-pity can be egocentric, in the sense that you feel like the only person suffering – “… And back to me”. This in turn usually leads to a feeling of victimization.
Self-compassion is not purely kindness or sympathy towards yourself – these are helpful characteristics, but should not be confused with compassion.
Self-compassion should not be confused with self-indulgence.
Allowing yourself a self-congratulatory treat is self-indulgent treat (which may well be justified), but self-compassion is not treating yourself.
Self-compassion does not equal self-esteem.
Simplistically, Self-esteem is a person’s self worth, self-compassion is not based on a person’s self-worth but based in the idea that everybody deserves compassion.
So how do you define ‘Self-Compassion’.
Compassion is the ability to notice suffering, it is emotional empathy / involvement that allows you to try and understand (not excuse) situations and feelings, putting things into perspective with calmness and understanding that allows you to understand that this suffering / failure / difficulties are all part of being human. (As per Kirstin Neff’s explanation).
Self-Compassion is trying to apply your compassionate behaviour towards others, to yourself.
People frequently treat others with a far more compassion than they treat themselves. They are far more self critical, self abusive, inflexible and frustrated.
Which leads into the obvious question – which type of person would you prefer to own up to a mistake to? Someone who is compassionate, or someone who is critical, abusive, inflexible and frustrated.
No brainer, right? Wrong – internally people are far harsher to themselves than to others to the point whereby their behaviour can change – either they avoid any situation that they fear may result in a similar outcome (suppression) or explode in a self critical meltdown/tirade.
Most of us are taught to value others, to be generous and understanding and generally treat others as we would want to be treated, except most of us don’t.
Interestingly, and amusingly (when looked back on with the sufficient distance and hindsight!) the usual self justifications for treating yourself badly, and I have used all these myself, include needing the such harsh words to motivate myself, to achieve my goals, to fit in at work etc. However, such self chastising strategies are actually unhelpful as coping mechanisms and not good at building up emotional resilience to endure or overcome the challenges life will inevitably throw your way.
Another thing self-compassion is not is the ability to make yourself feel good all the time.
If you want to talk about the way you talk to yourself, if you think you might be being too harsh on yourself or are not sure where you stand, please just give yourself a break – contact Accessible Online Counselling and we can talk.