Self-Compassion: The Key to Success
What is Self-Compassion?
Most people are familiar with self-esteem, but the idea of self-compassion is still in its infancy. This is somewhat surprising given that modern society considers compassion a virtue. If you doubt this, consider the Dalai Lama, who currently has just over 3.2 million Facebook followers! People who exhibit high levels of self-compassion are, in the most basic sense, nice to themselves.
Many believe self-compassion leads to people taking less responsibility for their actions, but according to a study at Duke University, exactly the opposite is true! People who have this quality work hard purely because it makes them feel good, not to meet someone else’s expectations.
Interestingly, men show higher levels of self-compassion than women, which are positively associated with life and relationship satisfaction, body image, dieting success and the ability to quit smoking.
To foster self-compassion, follow its three main tenants, self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. By taming your inner critic, you can improve your relationships, well-being and even success at the workplace.
Instead of reacting to a mistake or embarrassing situation with negative judgments, try being nice to yourself. If you think this is selfish, indulgent or weak, think again! Research shows exactly the opposite is true. A study conducted by Wake Forest University showed a self-compassionate attitude reduces the amount of junk food people consume from emotional eating, even among chronic dieters.
This idea may not be surprising to parents. Do you insult your child for struggling at school or gaining weight? Why treat yourself differently when struggling at work or eating too much? Criticism and negative judgments leave people feeling even less motivated to change.
Instead, practice saying positive thoughts out loud daily basis or call a supportive member of your social network when you’re feeling down.
Let’s face it. Inadequacy, imperfection and even insecurity are all part of the human condition. Next time you find yourself in an embarrassing situation, know that you are not the first nor the last to experience this! Others have tripped down the stairs in front of a crowd or become tongue-tied during a speech!
Remembering that you are one part of a whole will help you feel less isolated from the rest of society and decrease your level of anxiety during a painful or distressing situation.
The last component of self-compassion is confronting your emotions. Constantly suppressing your feelings causes chronic fatigue, which can lead to emotional outbursts.
To increase your mindfulness, use a journal to write down events that made you feel bad. Include feelings you experienced and your outward reaction. Imagine the ideal outcome, and remember it for next time!
Developing self-compassion takes practice and awareness. For more information on this subject, check out pioneer Dr. Kristin Neff’s website, http://www.self-compassion.org/.
April 17, 2012