The Strength of Self-Compassion
It’s common to beat ourselves up for faults big and small, but it’s vital to remember that self-criticism comes at a price. That is, it makes us anxious, dissatisfied with our life, and even depressed. College students often undergo waves of self-criticism due to the constant stress and competition that surround them. When our self-worth depends on out-competing others, we actually become more insecure, and in turn, when we fail, our self-criticism hits an all-time high and adds to our misery. So what can we do to avoid these circumstances?
While self-criticism leaves us feeling powerless and distraught, compassion for ourselves is at the root of empowerment and learning. With self-compassion, we value ourselves not because we’ve judged ourselves positively and others negatively but because we are aware that we, too, deserve care and concern just like everyone else. Self-compassion means treating ourselves as we would a friend. Some great ways to ensure that you are truly caring for yourself and reminding yourself that you are important include:
- Writing yourself a letter: Write yourself a letter that you would expect to receive from a compassionate friend. What would their words be? Later, come back and read the letter and receive it from yourself.
- Writing down your self-talk: If you are self-criticizing because your jeans don’t fit or you said the wrong thing in a situation, write down the self-critical words and ask if you would ever say them to a friend.
- Doing some meditation: Meditation is a process that, through contemplation and relaxation, helps us begin to let go of self-critical thoughts and emotions. It is a great habit to meditate for at least 20 minutes every day (I’m sure that wouldn’t put too much of a dent in your packed schedule!) to reap the benefits of having a calm and collected mind that is ready to take on the world with confidence.
It is essential to remember that self-compassion is distinct from self-esteem, a trait that can shade into narcissism. Nor should it be confused with self-pity or self-indulgence. Those low in self-compassion think that unless they are hard on themselves, they will not amount to much. That is not true; being kind to yourself does not lower your standards. With self-compassion, you can reach just as high, and even if you don’t happen to reach your goals, you’ll still know that your sense of self-worth isn’t contingent on success or dictated by grades.
Article by Rosheen Z. Birdie
Feature Image Source: The Highlander