Importance of Self-Compassion
Compassion is an idea that is familiar to most people. Many feel compassion in relationships with their partners, children, siblings, parents, etc. However, I have realized that the idea of self-compassion is unknown to many people.
It is easy to be harsh with ourselves and make quick judgements on our behaviour and feelings. Sometimes we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and measure success with an unrealistic and irrational yardstick.
Compassion for self is imperative and so important to promote self-esteem, confidence and healthy relationships. A lack of self-compassion can result in anxiety, depression and many other cognitive issues. Try to begin focussing inwards on what you feel and need rather than focussing on others. It will help you flourish as an individual and will help you become more grounded in your relationships.
Kristin Neff outlines three components of self-compassion:
- Self Kindness vs. Self Judgement – Treating self with care and understanding rather than harsh judgement. Trying to actively soothe and comfort oneself.
- Common Humanity vs. Isolation – Seeing your own experience as part of a larger human experience and understanding that it is not isolating or abnormal. Recognizing that life is imperfect and so are we!
- Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification – Allows us to be with painful feelings as they are. Avoids extremes of suppressing or running away with painful feelings.
To identify whether you are being compassionate to yourself, I encourage you to listen closer to your internal dialogue, or the things that you tell yourself on an ongoing basis. If I were inside of your brain, what would I hear? Would I hear harsh language? Would I hear put downs and extreme criticism? And would you ever say these things to a person you cared about?
Aziza Giga-Hirji MSW, RSW specializes in the areas of communication and relationships, as well as many others. For more information on Aziza, her work, or other articles she’s written for Living Well click here to link to her full bio page.