When I first heard about ‘self-compassion’, I had my doubts. I thought the word ‘self’ correlated with narcissism, selfishness, and an inflated ego. Thank goodness I kept an open mind and learned more about it and the research behind it. I realized my doubts (shared by many) were actually misunderstandings.
The ‘self’ just means we include ourselves in our circle of compassion, along with everyone else. When we include ourselves, our solid sense of ‘ego’ is lessened.
It’s anything but selfish. When we fill ourselves up with more kindness, care, and compassion, then we can give more to others.
IS A STRENGTH:
Some people think the word ‘compassion’ is soft, weak and for wimps. This is understandable as men are often socialized against warmth and tenderness. The good news is that research shows the opposite is true, self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of strength, resilience, and coping.
IS AN ANTIDOTE TO SELF-PITY:
A few people think self-compassion creates a ‘poor, poor, me’ narrative. This couldn’t be further from the truth because self-compassion notices we all have hard times. When we see clearly what is happening, there is no need to exaggerate – no need to become a drama queen/king. Seeing clearly means less rumination and more perspective taking.
WANTS LONG TERM HAPPINESS:
A misconception is that it makes us self-indulgent, giving us constant excuses to want instant gratification. Research shows that self-compassion wants long term happiness (vs short term pleasure) and self-compassionate people engage in healthier behaviors (exercise more, eat well, & drink less).
Research shows self-compassionate people have high personal standards. They are less likely to beat themselves up when they fail (and are less afraid to fail). They are more likely to learn from failure and try again. Surprisingly, studies show that it’s the self-critical people who are less likely to try new things. When we motivated ourselves with self-compassion, it feels supportive.
If you would like to explore the scientific research behind Mindful Self-Compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff has done a wonderful job compiling it here: https://self-compassion.org/the-research/