Link love: Self-compassion

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?

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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4 thoughts on “Link love: Self-compassion

  1. Pingback: Practicing self-compassion | Journey Through the Chrysalis

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