One of the most important relationships we can have is a healthy relationship with ourselves.
What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion is essentially showing compassion towards oneself. This involves being aware of and open to your own suffering and responding to it in a non-judgemental, kind way. It also involves seeing your experiences as being part of the bigger human experience, we all have imperfections and bad days.
There are 3 broad elements of self-compassion; self-kindness, mindfulness and common humanity:
Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding towards yourself rather than avoiding pain or being self-critical. Having self-kindness allows yourself to accept your imperfections, mistakes and negative feelings.
Mindfulness: Being aware of and open to your feelings. This involves objectively working through your feelings rather than avoiding or exaggerating them.
Common Humanity: Understanding that all humans, ourselves included, are vulnerable, imperfect and go through times of suffering. Also remembering that our thoughts, feelings and actions can be affected by external sources, we do not have complete control of our lives. These external sources may include both genetic and environmental causes.
What self-compassion does not involve
Being self-compassionate is not the same as being indulgent or pitying ourselves. The focus of self-compassion is doing what is healthy. It is not healthy to exaggerate feelings and stay upset for long periods of time or eat large amounts of comfort food for a whole week when we’re sad. Self-compassion is about allowing ourselves to feel our emotions but having an objective perspective.
Self-compassion is also different from self-esteem. Self-esteem is our sense of self-worth, how much we like ourselves. In Western culture self-esteem is often based off comparisons between ourselves and other people. Self-esteem can also be based particularly on our recent successes and failures. Therefore, self-esteem may be fairly unstable. One day someone may have a high self-esteem, then they make a mistake and this lowers their self-esteem. Self-compassion is much more stable. If you have a bad day or make a mistake self-compassion is not affected. This is when self-compassion is the most important. When we do experience a hard time self-esteem may fail us but self-compassion will not. However, it is beneficial to have a good self-esteem and high self-compassion.
Why is self-compassion important?
Self-compassion is important as it helps us understand our thoughts and feelings better. It also helps us cope during hard times. For these reasons it has been found to help reduce depression and anxiety. It is not possible to be too self-compassionate, self-compassion has no negative outcomes.
If you would like to meet with a counsellor to speak about having a healthy relationship with yourself or self-compassion, or to find out more about individual counselling services in Perth, please contact us.Article Title: A Healthy Relationship with Yourself: Self-Compassion Article By: Vision Counselling and Psychology, Perth Western Australia Web Address: www.visioncounselling.com.au Published:02/10/2014 Leary, M. R., Tate, E. B., Adams, C. E., Batts Allen, A., & Hancock, J. (2007). Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(5), 887–904. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.117 MacBeth, A., & Gumley, A. (2012). Exploring compassion: A meta-analysis of the association between self-compassion and psychopathology. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(6), 545–552. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.003 Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-Compassion: An Alternative Conceptualization of a Healthy Attitude Toward Oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/10.1080/15298860309032 Neff, K. D. (2009). Self-Compassion: A healthier way of relating to yourself. Accessed on August 22, 2014. Available at http://www.self-compassion.org/ Neff, K. D. (2011). Self-compassion, self-esteem, and well-being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(1), 1–12. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00330.x Neff, K. (2011). The Power of Self-Compassion: Let go of self-criticism and discover self-compassion. Accessed on August 22, 2014. Available at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-self-compassion/201103/let-go-self-criticism-and-discover-self-compassion Neff, K. D., & Germer, C. K. (2013). A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self‐compassion program. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 28–44. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/10.1002/jclp.21923 Neff, K. D., & Vonk, R. (2009). Self-compassion versus global self-esteem: Two different ways of relating to oneself. Journal of Personality, 77(1), 23–50. doi:http://0-dx.doi.org.prospero.murdoch.edu.au/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2008.00537.x Tartakovsky, M. (2012). 5 strategies for self-compassion. Accessed on August 22, 2014. Available at http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/27/5-strategies-for-self-compassion/ Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club