I’ve read a lot about the importance of having good self-esteem over the years, but it’s something I’ve just never quite been able to manage. No matter how well I do at something, I’m always aware that I could have done better or that there are other areas that I am not doing so well with. As a scientist, I am always looking for “proof” of whether any sense of self-esteem is justified.
My study of yoga has taught me more about the importance of compassion, including self-compassion. I find self-compassion to still be challenging to put into action sometimes, but it feels better than all my work at self-esteem ever has. New research indicates that self-compassion is actually healthier and leads to more success than self-esteem does. This week’s set of links shares more about that research and about how to put self-compassion into practice.
The first article that caught my eye was a report in the Harvard Business Review by Heidi Grant Halvorson called To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem. This article gives an overview of how self-compassion and self-esteem differ and what current research is saying about the importance of self-compassion for success in life.
One of the important researchers in this field is Kristin Neff. She published an article in Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life in May 2011 on the same topic. The article is called Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem. This article is longer and goes into more depth than the one in HBR. She shares what led her into this field of research, defines what self-compassion is and how it differs from self-esteem, and shares the results of a number of research studies on the effect of each one. Self-compassion consistently has greater positive effects than self-esteem does in these studies.
Scientific American has an article called Self-Compassion Fosters Mental Health by Marina Krakovsky that looks specifically at the mental health benefits that studies have shown stem from having self-compassion. In addition to covering the results of studies showing the benefits of self-compassion on mental health, this article also shares ideas for how to cultivate self-compassion for people who are often self-critical.
Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel writes at Tiny Buddha about self-compassion in an article called Self-Compassion: Learning to Be Nicer to Ourselves. This post covers (and debunks) several myths about self-compassion (including the oft-heard “I won’t be motivated if I don’t criticize myself”) and offers a list of suggestions for cultivating more self-compassion.
And last but not least, Nancy Colier writes about how self-compassion is a being form of self-care (as opposed to doing) in her article on Huffington Post called Selfish, Lazy, Compassion, Happy … Who Are We If We Love Ourselves? I really liked her emphasis on self-compassion as a form of self-care. She also offers ideas for re-framing our common ideas about self-compassion as something to be avoided in order to support the cultivation of more self-compassion in our lives.
From all I have read in these articles (which are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there), I am convinced that the cultivation of self-compassion needs to be a high priority in my life, and I now have some resources to help me do that.
What is your relationship with self-compassion? Did this research change your mind?
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