I found this article on Psychology Today recently and loved it because there is so much talk in the pop psych world about having self-esteem and the importance of it – all of which is true, but there is an aspect to it that is rarely talked about, which is self-compassion. Self-esteem can be dangerous because if something happens that tears at your ego or your sense of worth it may shake your sense of self and create cognitive dissonance (i.e. what happens when you have to reconcile two conflicting beliefs). However, self-compassion allows you to loosen up your sense of self to allow for mistakes and knowing you won’t always be perfect. It helps take away the blame, judgment while also allowing you to be more confident in whatever you do because even if you do mess up, that is still all part of the process.
So how did this article define self-compassion?
Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding — it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human.
Conversely, what does self-esteem mean?
Self-esteem refers to the degree to which we evaluate ourselves positively.
This article talks about self-compassion offers that which self-esteem does, but takes away the downsides. There is even research to support this:
[One] study asked people to recall a previous failure, rejection, or loss that made them feel badly about themselves. One group of participants was asked to think about the event in ways that increased their self-compassion. Another group was asked to think about the situation in ways that protected or bolstered their self-esteem. People who received the self-compassion instruction reported less negative emotions when thinking about the past event than those in the self-esteem condition. Moreover, those in the self-compassion condition took more personal responsibility for the event than those in the self-esteem condition. This suggests that – unlike self-esteem – self-compassion does not lead to blaming others in order to feel good about oneself.
And the concluding message of this new research:
Here’s an unavoidable truth: You are going to screw up. Everyone — including very successful people — makes boatloads of mistakes. The key to success is, as everyone knows, to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. But not everyone knows how. Self-compassion is the how you’ve been looking for. So please, give yourself a break.
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