Talking about self-compassion in a world seemingly more competitive and demanding every day sounds like an oxymoron. However, research shows that self-compassion is a powerful skill for growth and learning, also serving as a motivator for change and betterment. In fact, the mentioned study compared the effectiveness of self-compassion with positive self-affirmations that boost self-esteem to those with a positive distraction. The results: Self-compassion was the only one that improved motivation to change and perform!
So what is self-compassion?
Contrary to some myths, self-compassion does not mean self pity. It is not about feeling sorry for yourself but about being able to see the problem in a non-judgemental way. At the end of the day we have all made mistakes. Self-compassion means to set the criticism aside and see the issue for what it is, to see those negative parts of ourselves in a more kind and friendly light. This will help you to gain clarity about the issue and figure out what is really going on. It is easier then, to see the path to improve ourselves.
What are the other benefits of self-compassion?
- Increasing confidence in your ability to change
- Elevating motivation to do it
- Heightening the desire to redeem ourselves and abstain from behaving the same way
- A preference to be around people who have already overcome the same issue
Self-compassion also helps people to increase their performance. In the same study, people who failed a test and practiced self-compassion, spent more time studying for a second test with improved results! So this not only helps you feel better about yourself but to actually do better, supporting how you feel.
There are different ways to be compassionate with ourselves:
- Be your best friend: Ask yourself what would you do or say if your best friend comes to you with the same situation. Can you be as kind to yourself as you are with your loved ones?
- Be kind: Using expressions such as “I can never learn” or “I’m a failure” won’t get you far. Chose words that evoke kindness, “I feel really sad right now, but I’ll learn from this experience and I’ll do better next time.”
- Be open to learn: As bad as it may be, the silver lining is that you can always learn from it and become a better person.
- Forgive yourself: Remember not to judge yourself for this situation. To be fair, all the decisions you have made in your life could be measured to determine if you are a good or bad person. It would be better to judge yourself for how much you will grow up and improve from this situation.
- Practice mindfulness: This requires you to be as objective as you can, seeing the situation as it is right here and now. It implies avoid dwelling on the past or on an imagined, negative future.
Now that you know how helpful it is to practice self-compassion, can you plan out what you would do the next time you need it?