Why You Should Practice Self-Compassion

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Self-compassion is both self-accepting and self-improving. It is extending self-kindness to yourself in moments of inadequacy, shame, failure or any suffering. It gives you a realistic but kind view of yourself, excluding self-pity or self-indulgence. Self-compassionate people avoid putting themselves down or taking harsh generalizations of themselves to heart. They can see their difficulties and hardships in the face of the rest of humanity, making their experiences, positive or negative, more fruitful and rewarding. Here are a few reasons why you should practice self-compassion.

It fosters mental health

Dr. Emma Seppala, Science Director at the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, describes self-compassion as treating yourself as you would treat a friend, being more mindful, gentle and less critical of your mistakes. This makes you stronger and more resilient, which is paramount for a healthy state of mind.

Studies show that compassion has a positive impact on the decrease of mental health conditions. It has been shown to decrease anxiety, psychological distress, stress, and depression. Another study indicates that divorcees who are kind to themselves and speak in compassionate terms when referring to themselves, adjust and bounce back faster and better than those who have shown themselves less compassion. In fact, self-compassion has been shown to be a better predictor of functional coping with hardships than optimism or self-esteem. Self-compassion is the secret to resilience, an ability to learn from past mistakes, strength in failure and a total bounce back with greater enthusiasm.

It motivates you

Criticism as a motivational strategy has for ages been internalized and passed down as the go-to tool for winning, making money or merely being the best, but a body of research shows otherwise. Criticism is associated with fear of failure, avoidant behaviors, and increased stress.

The author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, Dr. Kristin Neff, quips that people more compassionate to themselves show fear of failure less than those who aren’t. This probably because they are not internally denigrating themselves, filling themselves with fear. A study found out that self-compassion assisted smokers to curb the habit faster, because it helped improve loyalty to themselves, therefore making them more likely to follow through on their decisions.

It enhances self-worth

Chasing after self-esteem on its own makes you reliant on positive feedback and dependent on feeling above average. Naturally, this is not a sustainable way to handle yourself. That is why in the absence of positive feedback, there will be a constant comparison with other people, which may result in you putting them down so you can feel good about yourself. Self-esteem by itself has a roller coaster of emotions, which goes up or down, depending on the feedback we get on how others see your value.

But if you add self-compassion to self-esteem, you can allow yourself to embrace who you are, giving you more emotional balance. Self-compassion dictates that you are as valuable as any other person, and so you will learn to treat yourself and other people with more kindness.

It propels you forward

Negativity and self-criticism can be self-fulfilling prophecies because they determine your behavior and actions. Self-criticism negates your abilities, potential, and values, which drives you to create situations that confirm the difficulties already planted in your mind. By practicing self-compassion, you can love and accept yourself, and those feelings will be apparent in your associations with other people. This means that people will also be compelled to be kind, loving, respectful just as you are with yourself.

You deserve it.

In her book, Dr. Kristin Neff says that through the pillars of self-compassion, which are mindfulness, self-kindness and common humanity we can become more loving to ourselves and others around us. We become less judgmental, and therefore build better lifelong relationships that are the cornerstone of a happy life.

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