We’ve all heard the saying “You are your own worst critic” many a time in our lives.
Accepting and loving yourself is the key to staying happy and healthy, so why is it that so many of us struggle with it?
In our society, we’re told that self-esteem is the key to a great life.
While having good self-esteem is an important trait to possess, it can also be detrimental. In fact, it can almost be as bad as having low self-esteem. Having high self-esteem means you feel special and above-average. This can sometimes lead to an inflated sense of ego and feelings of anger, aggression and anxiety. So how does one balance the importance of feeling good about themselves while being kind to others? Develop a sense of self-compassion.
By definition, self-compassion is the ability to turn acceptance, love and understanding inward. Self-compassion has three elements: “self-kindness, recognizing one’s own humanity, and mindfulness” (Goodtherapy.org). All three of these elements are important as self-compassion is all about self-acceptance, even in the face of defeat and failure. This is so important for all of us to understand. We have a tendency as humans to be much harder on ourselves than others, leading to feelings of despair, anxiety and dissatisfaction. The only way to break this cycle is to start to give ourselves a break.
Research has shown that self-compassion offers the same benefits as high self-esteem, such as greater happiness and less depression and anxiety, without the negative aspects of ego-defensiveness, social comparison and narcissism. Techniques for practicing self-compassion include meditation, memorizing a set of compassionate phrases to repeat to yourself when you’re feeling bad, and treating yourself to things you enjoy from time to time. While these may seem trivial, they are nonetheless very powerful actions to help a person become happier.
In our culture today, it is more important than ever to be kind and compassionate not only to other people, but ourselves as well. As human beings, we are all worthy of respect. We just have to give it to ourselves as well.