What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion refers to the way you relate to and talk to yourself, about yourself.
Although it’s similar to self-esteem, self-compassion recognizes that loving ourselves is a process over which we have control, rather than a fixed endpoint, as self-esteem implies.
Factors Contributing to Degree of Self-Compassion
- Upbringing and childhood
- Past relationships
- Current relationships
- Career path
- Outward appearance
- Societal and cultural schemas
- Internalized stigma
- Thought patterns
Why is self-compassion important?
The more times you hear something, the more you begin to believe it’s true. The more you believe something is true about you, the more you act in ways that confirm that belief.
Example: Danny’s Story
Throughout his life, people told Danny (not a real person) that he was stupid, and placed him in the lowest level courses in school. Teachers treated him differently than the other kids.
As time went on, Danny tried less and less hard in school. After all, if he was stupid, what was the point of trying?
Since Danny tried less hard, he got worse grades, for which his parents berated him. Getting bad grades and being berated for them reinforced the belief Danny had internalized – that he was stupid.
How would Danny’s life have turned out differently if someone was compassionate towards him? If someone had told him that he was not stupid, but in fact, just as capable as any other student? He might have tried harder in school. He might have gotten better grades. And those good grades might have given him more confidence.
Moving forward with Self-Compassion
We can’t change how we were treated as children; it’s in the past.
As adults, we can choose to be kind to ourselves. It’s not too late for us to change our mindset and consequently, our lives.
When we are kind to ourselves, we are kinder to others. We are happier, we believe in ourselves more. Doors start to open for us. Those are the reasons why self-compassion matters.
How can therapy help?
Identify Pre-Existing Strengths
A good therapist will help you identify positive traits and coping skills you may not have even realized you have. I consider this to be one of the most important parts of my role.
In general, people are their own worst critic. Sometimes, it takes someone outside of yourself pointing out what you’re doing well to start to acknowledge it.
Learn New Strategies
If desired, I will give you specific strategies, tools, and mantras that will help you change negative self-talk. With practice and repetition, you can begin to treat yourself more gently – like you would treat your best friend or child.
Therapists can give you the motivation and clarity needed to reach your external career or relationship goals.
True self-compassion comes from the inside, not from reaching external goals. With that said, sometimes taking steps towards these goals can give you a much-needed boost of confidence.