There are plenty of people with self-esteem to spare, some of it unwarranted, for sure. And there are those with so much self-esteem that they can be categorized as narcissists. But what about those on the opposite end of the scale? The folks who find it hard to be nice to themselves.
These are the people who seek constant improvement. Always trying to do better. Be better. And that’s a good thing, yes? But if you are constantly trying to improve, does that also mean you are constantly finding fault? And constantly criticizing yourself? Which can lead to low self-esteem. Even anxiety and depression.
What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion is not the same as self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we perceive ourselves. How we think about ourselves. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is about how we treat ourselves. Are we at least as nice to ourselves as we are to the random stranger in the street? Really, some people are so hard on themselves that a stranger gets better treatment. If they would learn to give themselves a break they could make their lives much happier.
How do you practice self-compassion?
Being nice to yourself is a way of thinking that you may not be used to. Sometimes it takes an effort—you must practice improving your self-compassion until it’s second nature to you. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You are human. And therefore you are fallible. No one is perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, so try to put yours in perspective. If you are one of those people who play your mistakes over and over in your head on a continuous loop of self-flagellation, break the cycle. Stop and think of something good.
- Be kind to yourself. Be at least as kind to yourself as you would be to a good friend who needs your empathy. Pretend your friend is going through the same tough time you are. How would you comfort her? Be a good friend to yourself. And try to learn from your situation, so you can find something positive from less than wonderful circumstances.
- Try to be objective. Sometimes we expect more of ourselves than is humanly possible. Be honest. Are you being fair to yourself? Don’t let outside forces influence you. All the kudos, promotions, and prizes others bestow have nothing to do with how you treat yourself. Honestly evaluate yourself. Are your intentions good? Are your motivations sound? If so, be gentle.
Self-compassion may take some time to master since the old habits of being tough on yourself die hard. But you may find that when you practice more self-compassion, you also develop higher self-esteem. And a better chance at a happier life.