Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Showing compassion or kindness to our friends and loved ones comes easy to us, we are more forgiving of their failures and pain. What is stopping us from showing similar kindness to ourselves? Self-compassion has been shown to be related with increased psychological well-being. (Neff, Kirkpatrick & Rude, 2007).
Self-compassion is showing yourself kindness especially in face of hardships and struggles.
We often fall into patterns of self-loathing because we didn’t live up to our expectations which might have been leaning towards perfectionism, this can lead to anxiety, shame and guilt. Self-compassion can be useful in calming your anxieties by being more forgiving of your short comings. Based on the extensive research on self-compassion by Kirstin D Neff (2003) I will discuss a few ways that self-compassion can be a useful coping tool for anyone struggling with anxiety, guilt and low self-esteem.
Recognising - We are not alone in our struggle similar emotions and failures are shared by a lot of people in the world. We are not the first person to fail and we are not alone. Recognise that you are human and humans make mistakes.
Acknowledge - This may seem similar to the above point but we need to acknowledge our emotions. Not accept just acknowledge without judgement of any kind. We are allowed to have all sorts of emotions and just the acknowledgement, “I am feeling sad and angry and that’s okay” is enough to let the healing begin.
Be kind - How does one be kind to oneself? One simple way is by using kinder words. The language we use to talk to ourselves can be really harsh, let’s talk to ourselves like we may talk to our best friend when they are struggling.
Seek support from friends and family and maybe even a health care professional, there are people who can help us and stand by us when you are struggling with our anxieties. It is not going to be easy but it isn’t impossible. Let’s be kind to ourselves the way we would be to our friend. Let’s be friendly to ourselves.
Bennett-Goleman, T. (2001). Emotional alchemy: How the mind can heal the heart. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Neff, K. D. (2003). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2, 85–102.
Neff, K. D., Kirkpatrick, K. L., & Rude, S. S. (2007). Self-compassion and adaptive psychological functioning. Journal of research in personality, 41(1), 139-154.