What is Self-Compassion—Why does Self-Compassion Matter?

A Little Self-Compassion Goes a Long Way

How do you respond when you don’t live up to your high standards? Have you learned to pump yourself up with positive affirmations? Next time you’re having a difficult time, try a little kindness instead.


1. Practice mindfulness: the more mindful you are, the more you'll be aware when you're self-critical.

2. Forgive yourself: "To err is human, to forgive divine." Practice self-forgiveness. You're not perfect and that's OK!

3. Create "Kindness Affirmations" for your own self-talk: Put in your own words what feels best for you to hear when you don't meet your own high standards. For example, I tell myself, "It's okay. You tried your best, that's the most you can offer."

Simply learn from your experience and do better next time. No experience is ever wasted if you can learn, grow and become a better person as a result.

Self-compassion—the ability to treat oneself kindly and without judgment when things go badly—may be more important than self-esteem for promoting well-being, according to a study published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Social scientists have previously placed emphasis on how self-esteem—the ability to believe positively in oneself and to feel valued by others—creates feelings of well-being. In contrast, self-compassion involves caring for oneself rather than believing in oneself.

Self-compassion consists of three components:

1. self-kindness;

2. realizing your common humanity with others; and

3. mindful acceptance.

While many people with high self-esteem are also self-compassionate, not all are. Self-compassion, in contrast to self-esteem, may be a key to maintaining resilience in the face of adversity. “If people learn only to feel better about themselves but continue to beat themselves up when they fail or make mistakes, they will be unable to cope non-defensively with their difficulties,” lead author Mark R. Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, told Duke University News & Communications.

Leary and his colleagues conducted five studies to evaluate the role of self-compassion in creating well-being, while taking self-esteem levels into consideration. The researchers determined that many effects previously associated with self-esteem might be better explained in terms of self-compassion.

Leary added, “American society has spent a great deal of time and effort trying to promote people’s self-esteem, when a far more important ingredient of well-being may be self-compassion.”

Emotional and physical well-being are inter-related. Boost your well-being with a little self-kindness each day.

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