Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself. It entails treating yourself with kindness and compassion. As adults, we don’t always find this easy. In times when violence and conflict is the focus of media attention, self compassion is being talked about more. Why?
Three components of self-compassion
The three components at the foundation of self-compassion are:
- Self-kindness – being supportive and kind in our self-regard, acknowledging that we’re doing the best we can, soothing and nurturing ourselves and eliciting warm feelings and a desire to improve our circumstances.
- Common humanity – recognising that all humans fail, get things wrong and suffer sometimes, and that this shared human condition fosters a connected mindset that includes others.
- Mindfulness – having mindful awareness of our negative thoughts and emotions so that we deal with them in a calm and balanced way.
Why is self-compassion important?
Having self-compassion is good for us. It is good for our emotional well-being, motivation, resilience and relationships.
Emotional well-being from greater self compassion is linked with:
- less anxiety and depression,
- reduced self-evaluative anxiety,
- less rumination of negative thoughts, and
- greater sense of emotional intelligence, wisdom, life satisfaction, and feelings of social connectedness
Motivation and the achievement of goals is improved with a self-compassionate mindset:
- by striving to do things that will help us be happy through new achievements and development,
- impacting our sense of personal initiative, sense of self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation,
- having less fear of failure, and
- promotes health related behaviours related to diet, exercise and seeking health advice.
Resilience is increased, helping people cope with challenging emotional or stressful situations:
- showing better psychological adjustment in the face of distress (death or disruption to relationships), and
- to deal with chronic, physical pain.
Relationships and interpersonal skills are enhanced by self compassion by:
- being emotionally connected, accepting and autonomy-supporting, and
- being less detached, controlling and verbally/physically aggressive.
Can you learn self-compassion?
There is a lot of information about to suggest that it is possible to learn to have self-compassion. Along similar lines to learning mindfulness, there are practices and exercises that will assist in developing good habits in the area. I will be exploring these in future posts.
Neff, Kristin D. and Dahm, Katie A. (no date) Self-Compassion: What it is, what it does, and how it relates to mindfulness (To appear in M. Robinson, B. Meier & B. Ostafin (Eds.) Mindfulness and Self-Regulation. New York: Springer)